Autism’s Effects on Siblings

I have two amazing little boys. Cooper is six and Sawyer is four. I always dreamt of having a huge family. I thought for sure I’d have at least four kids. A bunch of dogs too. A full life as they say. In a way I think I thrive on chaos. I love being busy and having fun. If you know me then you know I am rarely sitting down. As a newlywed when I thought of the future I pictured baseball games and school dances. I truly believed that having babies wouldn’t slow us down. I thought my husband and I would have a bunch of beautiful babies and be as busy as ever.

My Boys

I was blessed with Cooper first. He came right after a pretty tough miscarriage. He came into my life with the force of a tornado. And then when Cooper was a little over a year old I found out I was pregnant. I am the person that says….’I have no idea how this could’ve happened.‘ I’m not joking. I was shocked.

And I have a secret. No one knows this. I cried the day I found out I was pregnant. Actual ugly tears. I have never been more afraid in my whole entire life.

The A-Word

Cooper was two. And I was failing as his mother. I couldn’t fix him. I was chasing doctors and therapies and coming up short. I felt like I was failing as a wife, a friend, an employee and a mother. My world was crashing down around me. Autism was right around the corner. Severe, nonverbal autism. The scary kind.

I lived every single day with a dreadful feeling in my stomach. I knew the bottom was going to fall out of the perfect life I fantasized about. I could feel it happening. It was only a matter of time until we had the label.

But I was faking it and making it. I kept the perception up. And then I found out I was pregnant. It was a Saturday morning. I’d been awake all night with Cooper. He never slept.  And I had a hunch. I peed on a stick and the thing practically screamed YOU ARE PREGNANT.

I was so scared. I hadn’t slept in over a year. My world revolved completely around Cooper. Much as it does now. Not a lot has changed in that department.

For the next 9 months I would lay awake at night when I should have been catching precious sleep googling ‘odds of having two kiddos with autism.’ I was so scared.

I Can Do This

And then it was January and I was the mother of two little boys. I remember vividly thinking…I will spoil this baby rotten. He will never feel jealous of his brother and all of his appointments and his extensive needs. I thought…I can do this. I can be the mother to these two little boys and give them both what they need. God I was scared.

And here we are today. I have a six year old with severe autism. He is nonverbal. His needs are extensive. He is loud and aggressive and sweet and innocent at the same time. Every meal is a fight. He has no self-care. And when he reaches a milestone this mama celebrates like he just solved the world’s problems. He is amazing. He is mine.

And I have a four year old. He is funny and smart. He is more curious than any kid I have ever met. He exhausts me in a way I didn’t know possible. He is my heart. And he brought me out of the Autism world and back into reality. When Cooper was diagnosed I jumped head first into the rabbit hole of his diagnosis. It became my whole entire world. It’s all I could think about. Until I had Sawyer.

He reminded me that there was so much more in this world than just ‘Autism.’ He reminded me that I needed to be a parent first. He reminded me that I had two beautiful boys that needed my attention. He gave me all the milestones and memories that a mother should have. He has given me more joy that I can put into words.

It’s a Fine Line

As my boys get older I am starting to see the struggles Sawyer is facing. He is confused by autism. He is starting to mimic his older brother’s behaviors. He is wondering why he doesn’t get as much attention as his brother. And as a result, I see that we have spoiled him. Obviously, he is an absolutely amazing kid. I have no doubt about that. But there is a fine line between making his life easier because his brother has a disability and turning him into a wild child. Check out my video for more thoughts on the subject of autism and its effects on siblings.

My Thoughts on Autism’s Effects on Siblings


Autism and Siblings

Hey! My video of the day is all about siblings to autistic kiddos. I get asked questions daily about how my boys interact. Is their animosity? Do they play? Is there jealousy? Here are my thoughts on raising two amazing boys, with one having autism, and how it works. And I openly admit it’s not easy. I thought we were doing better than we were.


Posted by Finding Cooper’s Voice on Sunday, July 30, 2017

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  • Maralee

    August 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I just wanted to share with you the I have a almost 20 year old Daughter that is on the spectrum. I also have a […] Read MoreI just wanted to share with you the I have a almost 20 year old Daughter that is on the spectrum. I also have a typical daughter that is 24. Kyra my spectrum baby was not diagnosed until she was 14 she is now in college at Western Washington University majoring in Nero behavior science a lot of work went into her to get her to this point in a very short period of time. During this crazy time our oldest Ashley was off doing her on thing. She was in denial of her sister autism for many years and still is with something's. She is away saying to me that I baby Kyra and that I need to let her just figure things out. No matter what I say or how many times I explain to Ashley that yes I do need to pay for Kyra to have her own room in school or I need to call the councilor at the college to make sure Kyra has turned her accommodation form into ALL of her professors because Kyra doesn't think she needs to ( I also think that she is in denial sometimes). With all that said if we are in public and someone says or looks at Kyra crazy or is rude to her Ashley is the first person even before me to say something or make space for Kyra to feel more comfortable in a line cause kyra likes her space and doesn't like to be touched. At those moments is when I know no matter what Ashley will ALWAYS be there for her sister. They do fight about I think the most irrelevant things but when Kyra needs her she will excuse the language but kick ass and take names later for her sister. Your boys will figure out the balance as they grow up just love them as you all ready do and they will be just fine. I love watching your videos and I think your an AMAZING mama! Maralee Read Less

  • Caroline Vervoort

    August 7, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Kate! I also have 2 sons. My oldest, Adam, will be 7 in October and he has autism. My younger son just turned 3 […] Read MoreHi Kate! I also have 2 sons. My oldest, Adam, will be 7 in October and he has autism. My younger son just turned 3 so they are 3 years and 9 months apart. Adam was potty trained when he was 4, however, he has wet the bed for years with few dry nights in between. So, about 6 months ago we reverted back to pull ups at night. We always do bath time together and last night Vincent, my 3 year old who has been completely potty trained since he turned 2 (even at night) pointed at Adam laughing and called him a baby and mocked him because he was wearing a "diaper." I have never been so disappointed in my life. Adam looked at me with so much hurt in his eyes and said after tonight, he never wanted to wear a pull up again! So, it's back to doing laundry every night because I don't want him to feel ashamed. Adam was diagnosed at his 2 year old wellness visit. I have yet to take him to a behavioral pediatrician because I'm scared of what they will say. I have had him in speech therapy and occupational therapy since he was 2. He could name all 52 moons on Saturn at age 3. He was reading on a 3rd grade level since before he started Kindergarten. He is so "high functioning" that most don't know he's on the spectrum unless I tell them. He does not, however, express his feelings too easily. I asked him how his day at school is and he says, fine. That's all I get. I have to literally interrogate him and ask probing questions and I might get something more. Adam has an oral fixation and I'm constantly telling him to take things out of his mouth. It is a process and I know you wouldn't trade Cooper for the world just like me. You are doing great! It's so nice to connect with someone else who has these daily struggles. Continue celebrating the small milestones. We can do it! Read Less

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!


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