Sibling bonding is a really unique dynamic when you have one child that is severely disabled and another child that is typical. While all sibling relationships have hierarchical and reciprocal elements, that looks a bit differently in a special needs family dynamic. The attachment theory very much becomes applicable between siblings, and you quickly find that a very emotional and physical development happens that has nothing at all to do with the encouragement and push from either parent for them to love, like and get along.
Although Noah is the older sibling, he has always been the one to
seek comfort from Luke. It's a beautiful kind of role reversal and a
flip flop of birth order almost to compensate for the physical
challenges that Noah possesses. Luke has assumed the role of protector,
best friends, advisor, entertainer, and caregiver in training. He has
mastered the art of paying close attention to Noah's laughter triggers,
his anger responses, his expressions, and his vocal sounds in order to
become a fast and accurate interpreter of all of Noah's needs.
Sometimes he's quicker then even I am to just "know" what Noah needs in
Of course there are still very apparent episodes of sibling rivalry.
Luke will have moments where he is possessive of toys he claims as only
his, and likewise Noah does the same. They exhibit this by
purposefully trying to keep each other toys away from the other. And
while those moments don't generally last for a significant amount of
time, they intentionally do it to each other in a way as to establish
dominance over the other - really like a checks and balance of their
relationship. I rarely intervene as it never escalates to a point of
parental involvement and I let the two of them work out their minor
disagreements which in the end always winds up with one or the other
conceding and extending an invitation of play.
By far one of my most favorite things to watch is when Luke
goes over to Noah in his feeding chair before each meal and holds both
of his hands together. And says "Thank you Lord for the food we're
about to receive. Amen." And then goes and find his place at the table
to eat. To watch a little brother hold his big brother's hands
together so he can pray... well that kind of makes a mom's heart reach
places that you didn't even know existed.
He's such a great little sidekick for Noah. Even as I write
this, Luke is singing a goodnight song to Noah and telling him not to
party too long.
Being a Brother is Better than Being a Superhero.
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.