When you have a child with an ASD or any other kind of "different ability", sometimes they tend to get more attention because their needs, in some aspects, are very different from their brothers and sisters. I don't think it's fair to say that Ryan and kids like him need the attention more than their neurotypical siblings because acknowledging Emma's math test and hearing Kyle when he tells me something is equally as important as Ryan's need for a new binder immediately because his broke and if it's not replaced his teachers may turn him to stone. The irony of all the time I spend with Ryan is that he would prefer nothing more than for me to stop nagging, I mean, helping him, and I bet this time together is not what Ryan sees as evidence of favoritism, but as a necessary evil. And sometimes I wonder if Kyle and Emma think Ryan is the favorite based on the amount of time I help Ryan with homework or the numerous times I cut him some slack because the battle fatigue just isn't worth the victory.
Then there are other moments when I wonder, if Ryan feels like Kyle and Emma are my favorites because sometimes it's just easier with them. Kyle and Emma don't have such stringent demands for certain foods, certain routines, and certain toe nail clippers. Kyle and Emma want to sit and chat about their day with me or just hang out in the same room that I am taking up space in. They tell me about their friends, what happened at lunch or on the bus on the way home. Besides what is written in Ryan's agenda or what is on his teachers' websites, I have no idea what is going on in Ryan's life and AWEnestly, that makes the quantity of time spent doing homework with him somewhat enjoyable. I may be a necessary evil for Ryan because in his words, he "sucks at English", and he needs good old mom's help, but I hope he understands that dumb mom enjoys the moments when I get a small glimpse inside his day even if that day is a battle over what purpose a metaphor has in our day to day living. I just hope that while I'm helping Ryan with homework, that Kyle and Emma aren't online looking up inappropriate web sites, dabbling in illegal substances or sneaking out the back door to vandalize the neighborhood after feeling neglected and assuming that they are wearing the "least favorite" kid title.Favoritism....we try not to have it, try not to show it, and try not to believe it exists even for a second, but sometimes as a kid, you feel your rank regardless of the "amount" of love you get.
Yep, Guilt keeps showing up again....and again....and again. It's a shame Guilt wasn't on The Titanic. Parenting is hard. Getting it right most of the time is even harder. Doing it without Guilt holding your hand and taking your spot on the life boat, is next to impossible. As a child, it was all about the numbers. Who is your number one favorite kid? Who is second? Who is last? Now, as a parent, I finally understand my mother's Switzerland answer of "I love you all the same". Love can't be measured. There is no scale, no measuring device, no yardstick....love is immeasurable regardless if you have one child or ten so you can't rank it or rate it. Whether it's a child with a different ability or not, the love a parent has for their child is as unique as the child itself and no "rank" is necessary.
The Titanic was suppose to be unsinkable...this claim was measured by the amount of planning, complexity, "high tech" features and the 70,000 tons of steel used to build it. I would imagine there were plenty of numbers and equations involved in making such an infinite claim, yet, it took one lurking iceberg not seen by the lookout, that had been left out of the equation, to sink the unsinkable. I had no lookout warning me of Autism. I didn't plan for it, I didn't ask for it, and I didn't have a lifeboat to escape to in case autism showed up, but none the less, autism has become a part of our family. Whether you are the child living with autism, the sibling, or the parent, an autism diagnosis effects us all in various ways, however, unlike the Titanic's iceberg, autism has not defined our fate. Some days, autism feels like a giant iceberg ready to pull us under, but most days, it is just a blip on the radar...nothing that makes our ship any different than the next one. And even on the choppiest days, when the waves rock our ship more so than others, I never worry about which kid is the favorite and who I should save first, because the answer is easy....who ever took out the trash the night before, gets the first life vest.