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The ‘Not Atypical’ Pickle: A Loving Journey

We try as parents to treat all of our sons equally, but still there is a difference between the three boys.

Two have special needs and one does not. My oldest “non atypical” son has no issues like his two brothers.

I get asked a lot how do we make sure my oldest son does not feel left out.

Being the older brother is a big responsibility; having brothers with special needs on top of that means even more responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong. My oldest son loves his brothers and loves to help out with them. He has always loved to do so.

But there comes a time where a kid needs to be a kid and be with other kids his age. That’s why we make sure he gets the love, attention, and independence he needs as an 11-year-old boy. He gets to have sleep overs with his friends, go to his friend’s house, and he travels and goes on vacations without his brothers in the summer with his grandparents and great grandparents.

We are so lucky he is able to do that. It gives him the time without his brothers and the daily special needs grind, as well as some one-on-one time with his grandparents.

We also try to have a day or a few hours where we spend time with our oldest. Last year, since he had perfect attendance the last two years in school and was on the honor roll all school year, I took him out of school for the day to spend time with me and go to the movies.

Kids need that from time to time. Especially if they have to spend every day helping with their special needs siblings. It makes a kid grow up fast even though you don’t want them to grow up too fast.

My oldest has handled his brother’s situations and diagnoses with maturity beyond his years and such compassion and understanding. He even loves to be friend other kids with special needs. He has a big heart.

Please, please, don’t let you’re non-atypical child in the background. Even if the time you can spend is only for an hour during therapies or during your special needs child’s nap or while they are in bed. Just try and take the time. You’ll notice them as an individual and notice all their strengths as a person.

Childhood is so fleeting and before you know it, you blink and they’re all grown up.


Trish Schaeffer is a mom of three boys—two with special needs—and a blogger for Central Penn Parent. Follow her at You can follow Trish on Twitter @Alovingjourney and on her Facebook group A Loving Journey-Parents of special needs kids.

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