245: Supporting Siblings of Neurodivergent Kids, with Doreen Samelson, Ed.D., MSCP

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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In this episode of Beautifully Complex, I’m joined by Doreen Samelson, EdD, MSCP to discuss the emotional impact on neurotypical siblings of neurodivergent children. Learn about the importance of acknowledging and accepting diverse emotions, creating intentional time for the siblings, and seeking support from networks and family members. This episode offers practical resources and highlights the significance of open dialogue and radical empathy in supporting all family members.

3 Key Takeaways

01

Acknowledge and Address Emotions: It’s important to acknowledge and accept all emotions in neurotypical siblings of neurodivergent children, including discomfort and embarrassment. This requires open dialogue and radical empathy within the family.

02

Create Intentional Time for Support: Providing intentional and uninterrupted time for neurotypical siblings is crucial. Seeking help from a support network or family members, along with accessing resources like Sibshops and organizations, can provide essential support.

03

Adapt and Respect Individual Needs: Recognize that the experience of neurotypical siblings may vary based on factors such as age difference and life stages. It’s crucial to adapt to different phases in their lives, respect their introverted nature, if applicable, and support their individual interests and activities.

What You'll Learn

The importance of acknowledging and accepting all emotions in neurotypical siblings of children with special needs.

How to create intentional and uninterrupted time for neurotypical siblings and seek help from a support network or family members.

The need for open dialogue and transparency within the family, and the importance of support and understanding for both neurodivergent and neurotypical siblings.

Strategies for adapting to different phases in the neurotypical sibling’s life and openly discussing expectations and responsibilities.

The significance of offering appropriate support to neurotypical siblings without pushing them, and the value of finding activities that are just for the child, separate from their family.

The importance of engaging in conversations with neurotypical siblings about their experiences and supporting them with radical empathy.

Resources available to connect with organizations, such as Dr. Samuelson’s organization, for navigating the complexities of supporting neurotypical siblings of neurodivergent children.

Resources

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My Guest

Doreen Samelson, Ed.D., MSCP

Dr. Doreen Samelson is a licensed clinical psychologist and author with 30 years of experience in healthcare as a practicing clinician, administrator and thought leader. She is the Chief Clinical Officer of Catalight, a nonprofit that provides access to innovative individualized care services, clinical research, and advocacy—so people with developmental disabilities can choose their path. Dr. Samelson provides clinical leadership for behavioral health research — developing new modalities of care and addressing unmet needs through technology advancements. Before joining Catalight, she was an Area Director for five mental health clinics with Kaiser Permanente where she also provided direct services to individuals with behavioral health needs.

Dr. Samelson is the parent of an adult with a developmental disability and is passionate about self-determinism, inclusion and helping people with developmental disabilities improve their quality of life.

Transcript

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:00:03]: I think the worst thing that may happen is to pretend that, you know, we're just like any other family and, you know, this isn't really happening because it is happening. And, again, as the neurotypical child develops and they're at different phases in their life, they're gonna experience their family system differently.

Penny Williams [00:00:24]: Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast Where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to The Beautifully Complex podcast, everyone. I am really excited To have doctor Doreen Samelson here with me to talk about siblings, our neurotypical siblings who have neurodivergent brothers or sisters and what that experience is like for them. Common sense tells us that our neurotypical kids are not getting as much attention sometimes because they don't warrant as much attention, but that can be really problematic, and it really has a great impact on those siblings and what their experience is like and even into adulthood, as I can speak to from my own family experience. So I'm so happy that we're gonna cover this topic and to have you here, doctor Samelson.

Penny Williams [00:01:33]: Will you start by just letting everyone know who you are and what you do?

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:01:37]: Sure. Thank you, Penny. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. So I'm the chief clinical officer for Catellite. We're a large nonprofit. We have responsibility for services for about 15,000 families here in California and in Hawaii. All those families have a child, youth, or adult with a developmental disability who is neurodivergent in some way, many of those families have a child with autism. But we really cover all developmental disabilities.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:02:08]: So there's a large, as you know, population of kids who are neurodivergent, and and they all have a lot of different needs often.

Penny Williams [00:02:16]: Yeah. Yeah. Everybody gets so different. I talk all the time about how we need to be individualizing our approach with our kids, with education, all of that, you know, everybody is individual. Those diagnoses can help us understand some of what's going on, but we still really have to look at each individual.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:02:35]: You're so right about that. And, you know, I also happen to be a parent. I have 2 children. I have a daughter who was typically developing, and I have a son who would be classified as neurodivergent. He has an intellectual disability. He is also profoundly deaf. He has really minimal language. Mhmm.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:02:52]: And both my kids are adults now, so I've sort of navigated that parenting for a number of years now and have thought a lot about my daughter as a typically developing sibling and what the experience has been for her Mhmm. With her brother.

Penny Williams [00:03:08]: So let's talk about that experience. What is that like for those neurotypical siblings?

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:03:15]: You know, I think it depends on a lot of factors. Whether the sibling is younger, older, my kids have quite a large age difference between them. Mhmm. So that's a factor. My daughter's the younger sibling, so she always grew up with her brother knowing that her brother was he was just her brother. She really didn't realize in the beginning when she was little that there was anything really different about Kim. Right? Because Right. She always called him my big brother, Peter.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:03:42]: That was kind of his title. And it wasn't until her language and her abilities really exceeded her older brother's that she really started to realize that there was something different about her brother. I think that's a factor depending on how many siblings are in the family is a factor. And the other thing that we may wanna talk about today is the factor of the phase of life that the sibling is in. So if that sibling is a youth or an adolescent, during that time in their life, it's a very different experience. Right? That's the time when they sort of get embarrassed by their parents.

Penny Williams [00:04:17]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:04:18]: So often they may get embarrassed by their sibling as well, their neurodivergent sibling. That's very typical. And then as they go into adulthood, that's a different experience. So I think there's just a lot of different factors involved and the experience for a sibling.

Penny Williams [00:04:34]: Yeah. I can speak to my own story a little bit. My neurotypical kid is the older child, and we started seeing a lot of anxiety and a real impact for her, I would say around, like, age 9 or so, we started to really become aware. And that was around the time that her younger brother went to school, and that's when we started realizing there were differences, and things were getting harder. And so behavior was changing. My focus was changing. And, you know, once we got her into some therapy, the therapist really helped us to recognize how much the squeaky wheel was getting the grease, and she was just sort of there in the background and what kind of impact that was having for her. And she still to this day, she's a young adult now, but she holds back on what's going on with her because she thinks I already have enough on my plate, and so we've really been working on that.

Penny Williams [00:05:36]: There's room For both of you. Right? I have equal amount of love and caring for both of you. That's really tough. How do we navigate that as parents?

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:05:47]: You know, that is really tough. And I remember experience where my daughter was just probably a toddler, and I had her in my arms. And I'm going out the door, and the phone is ringing. I'm like, it's the school. I know it's the school.

Penny Williams [00:06:00]: Mhmm.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:06:00]: And, it's about Peter. And this is before cell phones. Right? Because, you know, my kids are adults. And I'm thinking, do I just keep going out the door, you know, or do I go back and grab the phone? Right? And those kind of situations really pull parents in different directions. I think one of the things that parents can do is to be as transparent as possible Mhmm. And talk about it and say to the neurotypical child, let's talk about how this is for you. And the last week, you know, mom's been spending dad's been spending a lot of time with her sibling because maybe there was a a crisis or something that came up, which often happens. Right? Mhmm.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:06:43]: And I wanna acknowledge the fact that we have been kind of distracted. And I'm concerned about how that affects you, and I wanna talk about it. And I wanna maybe set aside some time where we can really do something that you would like to do. And being intentional about it and transparent as possible. Mhmm. I tried to be transparent with my daughter growing up with a disabled brother, I'm a wheelchair user, she grew up with a disabled mother, you know, realizing, hey, your family doesn't look like other families. I get it. You have friends over.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:07:17]: You know? How do you feel about that? Because they might feel a little embarrassed or something, you know, or they don't wanna have to answer questions. Why doesn't your mother walk, or why does your brother do these things?

Penny Williams [00:07:27]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:07:27]: And really having those conversations and acknowledge the fact that it is different. And it's okay if they feel bad about it or if they're angry about it at sometimes. I'm sure, you know, my daughter you know, there's times when she was kind of angry about not having kind of the typical family that

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:07:47]: Her friends had, and I think that's normal and okay.

Penny Williams [00:07:51]: Yeah. So really having a discussion with those neurotypical siblings about how all their feelings are okay. You know, as a culture, we We talk about this all the time on the podcast. We assign either positive or negative to emotions, and all emotions are natural. We need to that all emotions happen and not make our kids feel bad about that or that some way they've they've done something wrong. So I love that because I do think those are really tough emotions to navigate. Right? If you're a kid who is embarrassed About your family, you could feel guilt and shame for that also.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:08:30]: Yep. Yeah. And I think embarrassment is a normal emotion as you point out emotions, these are all normal. And for teenagers, for adolescents, they often feel embarrassed, you know, for various all kinds of reasons. Right? And I think acknowledging that it's okay to be embarrassed. And even to say, you know, there were times when I was out with my son, and he did something that I felt kind of embarrassed. Right? You know, his behavior was not as socially as appropriate as other people around us might think it should be. Right? And so I'm kind of looking around thinking, you know, what are people thinking? What are people gonna say to me? Or sometimes people do say things to you.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:09:10]: Right? Yeah. So I think acknowledging that that is a normal emotion and what kind of support can we give the typically developing sibling in dealing with that? Not to tell them not to feel that way.

Penny Williams [00:09:34]: So really giving them permission to feel how they feel sort of. And sometimes we have to do that for each other. We have to say, it's okay if you feel bad, but we can work on it together. What about the time factor? Because this was a big one for us. My son, when he was young, he was unbelievably hyper and just all over the place all the time. He required constant supervision. He just really took so much of my attention. And what we found is when we started with a therapist for her as well, we were guided to make sure we were spending more time with her.

Penny Williams [00:10:13]: We were making that Intentional effort that you were speaking about, but, also, we had to carve that time out, and we had to make sure that It wasn't interrupted by the sibling. I know for me, I said when like, I would take her out for the day ourselves, and I would say, okay. We're gone. You can't reach us unless someone is on the way to the hospital. Like, you know, if things are a little rough, you can handle it. You know? Dad can handle it because that was the issue. Right? That constantly, her brother was sort of robbing the attention. And so we made it just really purposeful that that couldn't happen, but I was fortunate enough to have a co parent.

Penny Williams [00:10:58]: So how do parents who maybe are single parents navigate this, or how do we find that time? How do we make it so that that is even a possibility.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:11:09]: You know, I really like your comments about intentionality and being really intentional about setting aside that time. It can be hard. I think one of the things that parents are sometimes reluctant to do is to ask for help. Mhmm. So, you know, it may be that there's a grandparent or an aunt or uncle or you know, I was in a babysitting court when my daughter was young, and there was another mother and I that kind of really dependent on each other. And her 3rd child was very difficult when he was young. And I was okay with taking him I kinda knew difficulty. Right.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:11:41]: And then she would just sometimes go with her older daughters and go do something. Right? And I think that getting that network, getting some help reaching out and then setting aside that time for the sibling or siblings. Sometimes, you know, there's Mhmm. There's more than one. And as you said, being really intentional about it. And then, again, unless someone's on their way to the emergency room, you know, don't call me. You know, I really need to set this time aside. And I think grandparents and other family members can really understand that if you sit down and talk to them about that.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:12:16]: And then very important is to give those other caregivers the tools to work and care for the neurodivergent child. So if grandma feels like she can't handle, you know, the neurodivergent child on her own, that's not gonna really work. So, you know, one of the things you can do is extend parent training to other family members so that you have that option.

Penny Williams [00:12:43]: I love that you brought that up, because I think it is an important hurdles sometimes for parents to leave their challenging kids with someone else and feel good about it. You know? And I think some of it Also, it's that embarrassment factor that we're talking about with kids. You know, as parents, we feel judged by other parents. And when our kid isn't behaving in socially appropriate ways, we worry about that. And so, yeah, just sharing what you know and setting them up to succeed when they our watching your child is such a valuable point that we do need to think about. And I I love that you brought up a babysitting co op. I had someone on the podcast probably a few years ago now, and it just reminded me of that. She was talking about creating a network.

Penny Williams [00:13:28]: As a single mom, she did this, but now she has a website that helps people connect with others in their area who can be a support system for them. So they can swap babysitting. They can, you know, depend on each other if they need someone to bring a meal over or whatever it might be. And it's so, so valuable to have support. Without it, it's going to be so much harder. So I love that that's part of this conversation too, I think it's really, really important. And that support helps us to show up better for the sibling, for both of them, but also for that sibling.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:14:03]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:14:04]: Yeah. It makes them feel important to you.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:14:06]: It really does.

Penny Williams [00:14:12]: You know, I talk a lot about being sure that we feel seen, heard, and understood. So that's what our neurodivergent kids need, but, really, all human beings, that's what we need to feel good. And I think that that's a big piece for these neurotypical siblings often is that they don't feel seen. They don't feel heard. They don't feel understood. They don't feel valued. Like, you know, for my own neurotypical sibling, She felt it was all about her brother. Like, all.

Penny Williams [00:14:42]: Right? Because so much of it was. And when you're a kid, things get bigger in your mind, especially if your emotions are bigger. So how do we make sure that we don't just carve out the time, but we also really show them that they're important to us, that they're valued, and that we really get their experience as that neurotypical sibling.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:15:06]: Well, I think, you know, we talked about this before, and I think that transparency and that open dialogue is so important that we really don't pretend that it's not the case. Right? I think the worst thing that can happen is to pretend that, you know, we're just like any other family, and, you know, this isn't really happening. Because it is happening.

Penny Williams [00:15:24]: Right.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:15:24]: And, again, as the neurotypical child develops and they're at different phases in their life, they're gonna experience their family system differently. Mhmm. Because it was really different for my daughter when she was little and then when she became a teenager, right, and then then a young adult thinking about going off to college, doing what she was gonna wanted to do with her life. And now as an adult, thinking about her aging parents.

Penny Williams [00:15:54]: Mhmm.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:15:54]: And my son will never be in you know, completely independent. Intellectual disability means that he will always need some support around really important things.

Penny Williams [00:16:04]: Right.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:16:05]: So now she sees her parents getting older, and now she's in a different phase of her life, and she's having a different experience. So, again, talking openly Yeah. About, are there expectations? Are there no expectations? What you know, we've brought her into you know, we set up a a special needs trust for our son, we brought her into the planning of that. She was, you know, in her twenties by then. Right? And, you know, what does that mean for her if she doesn't wanna be the person to manage that trust once her parents are gone? That's okay. We'll make other arrangements. Really making it clear that we had a, you know, a back and forth conversation about that. So it's not an assumption that she takes on this responsibility.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:16:50]: So I think part of the problem is, you know, the expectations on the child's part, the sibling's part, the parent's part, that we're somehow gonna make this be just like other families, rather than saying, okay, this is our family. How are we gonna meet everybody's needs? How are we gonna be open about it? If we're angry, sometimes we're angry. That's fine. If we need to take a break, we can take a break. You know, when my daughter was in college, you go away to college, you have the college experience. Right? You know, this is not the time to be thinking about your brother. This is a time for you to go to college and have the college experience.

Penny Williams [00:17:27]: Right.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:17:28]: And now she just became a mother herself to a brand new baby who's about a month old. And so now that's her needs to be her focus for you know? Right? So we just have to go through these different phases and sometimes are really hard, and sometimes they're less hard, and we need to be honest about it Yeah. And upfront about it.

Penny Williams [00:17:50]: Yeah. And as you're talking, I'm thinking about the fact that the siblings often then take on some of the responsibility in helping, in prevention, like, For my own family, my daughter would try to bribe her brother. She would give him her allowance. She you know, as she got older, she was really trying to take some control, which I think is her anxiety, but Mhmm. You know, they without having these conversations that you're talking about, they're going to assume that they have some responsibility whether it's now or down the road, and we don't want them to do that, you know, things from happening, you know, behavior from escalating because you're so worried about it. And she did just want things to be Not embarrassing when we're in the store and stuff like that. Right? And they do really tend to assume some responsibility if we don't have those conversations. It's such a good point to bring up.

Penny Williams [00:19:03]: We really do. And I it's weird. As parents, there's so many conversations we should be having that I feel like we don't. And I don't know if we worry about that outcome or if we think we shouldn't need to have the conversations, but, you know, what this whole conversation between you and I right now has been about, having conversations openly with our neuro kids, about the sibling, about the family, and kind of setting up almost a family culture. And I think it's just paramount to helping that neurotypical sibling in their well-being Because it really can have an extreme impact on their mental health. Right?

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:19:43]: You know, you're right. And I think one of the reasons that we don't have the conversations, is that we don't wanna accept the anger or the other emotions coming at us from the sibling from the neurotypical sibling. So if I bring it up, she might tell me how angry she is about having a brother that's it's like the brother that she has. Or she might blame me as a parent, you know. Why am I doing this? Why didn't I do that? You know. And why didn't I make different decisions? So there is a fear, I think, factor for parents as well that, you know, we're gonna have to deal with the emotions that the neurotypical sibling has. And we have our own emotions, of course. And so it's easier probably to just kind of not deal with it and not bring it up and not, you know, approach the subject.

Penny Williams [00:20:36]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:20:36]: Because you could have a very angry teenager on your hands yelling at you, telling you how, you know, it's your fault, and you should've done this, and you shouldn't have done that. Why don't you control his behavior or her behavior or whatever the situation is? Or, why do I have to be in this family? You know, all the different things that might come at you. And as a parent, just sort of having that conversation and listening to that is hard.

Penny Williams [00:21:01]: Yeah. Yeah. That's such a good point. We avoid things that are hard. Right. Of course. And our kids avoid things that are hard. What other resources are out there for siblings? I know that when my daughter was younger, we had something called SIB shops Here in our area.

Penny Williams [00:21:18]: And so once a month, they had just this, like, 3 or 4 hour sort of outing with the neurotypical siblings, and it was all about them, and they had different themes. One time, they went to work with horses. One time, they did, like, a campfire and s'mores, and and they, of course, had therapists who were involved and would facilitate discussions. But what was so valuable, I think, in our experience, was just knowing That she wasn't the only one who was having those feelings, who was going through that similar situation. What other resources like that might be out there? What can parents look for?

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:22:02]: You know, that is such a good question, and I think that it really depends on where you live and what kind of resources you have around you. There are some organization there's some specific organizations around different kinds of disorders or conditions, neurodivergent conditions that may have sibling services. One of the things we know about the population that we could classify under the large umbrella of neurodiversity is that it is extremely heterogeneous. It is extremely different and varied as we talked about at the very beginning of this podcast. But different organizations do often have some services. There's sometimes services that can be through the schools. School counselors can be helpful Mhmm. For the neuro typical child, if somebody's involved with their church, there could be, you know, church groups.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:22:51]: You could even start one. I think getting the neurotypical child around other kids that can understand their situation is often helpful. Then other times, you might have a neurotypical child who really doesn't wanna do that. They don't wanna talk about Yeah. You know, disability or neurodivergent, anything, they just you know, or autism or whatever it happens to be, and they wanna be in, you know, a girl scout troop or something, you know, in four h or something where they're Right. Doing something totally different and they don't have to deal with that, and that's okay too.

Penny Williams [00:23:24]: Mhmm.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:23:24]: We've been talking about sharing feelings and talking, but you also have to honor the person who's more introverted, who likes to think about things. My daughter would actually be in that category. She's more introverted like her dad. I tend to be more of an extrovert. Her brother and I are the extroverts in the family. And she wanted to think about things.

Penny Williams [00:23:46]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:23:46]: And sometimes she wanted to talk to her grandma and she didn't wanna talk to me, or sometimes she didn't wanna talk. And I think that's okay too.

Penny Williams [00:23:54]: Absolutely.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:23:54]: Right? So we need to meet all our children where they are, offer the supports, not push too much, and, you know, look for what we have in our community that can be helpful. I my daughter got very involved with an organization a youth organization, and that was really helpful to her. It wasn't around disability or neurodivergency or anything. It was, sea cadets, actually. She joined the sea cadets. She just really liked it. She just got along with the other youth in the group, and she would could go off and do these different things for a weekend or an evening or an afternoon, and it really gave her a break from everything else. She was involved with some school activities 2 that were very important to her, the band, and things like that so that she could have those experiences that aren't about her brother.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:24:45]: Right?

Penny Williams [00:24:45]: Right. They were just her own. Right. Yeah. It's just the stuff you do.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:24:48]: You join the club at school or whatever it happens to be.

Penny Williams [00:24:51]: Mhmm. And not pushing at all. I I'm really thankful that you brought that up because we do want to help. Right? And sometimes we push our kids toward what we think is helpful. But if they're not ready or they're not willing, it is not going to be helpful, and we have to remember that we're talking about these sort of things too. You know? We just started with having time to herself with each parent, and then we worked on, well, what else might you wanna do? And that isn't the whole family and things like that, but my kid is introverted too, and so sometimes it was, I don't wanna be around other people. You know? I just want some time to myself, and that's perfectly okay as well. And, you know, I think sometimes like, I remember earlier on as a parent thinking, you know, this is going to bring something extra to her life.

Penny Williams [00:25:47]: Right? And, you know, I would say Or I would think because I knew better than to say it out loud because it was a struggle, and I did recognize that. But I kept thinking, at some point, this is going to make her a better person or this is gonna make her understand people with challenges more or something like that. And we have to be so careful with that thinking because it almost feels like putting on rose colored glasses, and we don't wanna do that to our kids who are having a struggle.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:26:17]: No, I totally agree with you. And that's sort of the fantasy. Oh, you know, they're gonna be so understanding and, you know, they're gonna understand all this stuff. And sometimes yes and sometimes no. Right? Right. And so it just depends on a lot of things. My daughter did go on health care. She also went in the navy.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:26:33]: You know? I think that was sea cadet thing. That had nothing to do with our family.

Penny Williams [00:26:37]: Right.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:26:37]: She's still in the navy. You know, she got that path for herself. Do I think she's a more understanding person? Maybe. But I think, also, she was just that kind of person, you know, to begin with. Right. But I think we do have to be very careful about having it's fantasies about, you know Mhmm. All the positive things. There, of course, are positive things, but there are very, very difficult things.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:26:59]: And there continues to be difficult things that one has to and families have to deal with as we go through the aging process and through different phases of our lives. My son is an adult now. I'm thinking ahead to what's gonna happen when his dad and I are not around. See if as I've said, we've made some plans about that. But, you know, there's still a lot of challenges. There's no rose colored glasses to put on. Right?

Penny Williams [00:27:27]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:27:27]: And so we just have to deal with things the best we can. And that's another thing is to give each other grace and give ourselves grace as parents. Like, we're really doing the best we can. Maybe we're gonna change and do things differently because that didn't work out very well. But we're, you know, doing the best we can, and it's not gonna be perfect. And there's gonna be more hard things, you know, on the horizon.

Penny Williams [00:27:53]: Yeah, we always have to give ourselves grace always. Yeah. Yeah. So the first stop for listeners, it sounds like, is to start having some conversations with the neurotypical siblings about their experience and what's going on for them.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:28:07]: Yes. I think so. And if you have a sibling, neurotypical sibling who isn't ready to talk or doesn't wanna talk, then that's fine too. But you open the door and allow that to be, you know, the case. You've got an adolescent, particularly adolescent males, and, you know, you sit down with a 15 year old young male and say, let's have a deep conversation about my feel about your feelings. I mean, you know, probably not. Right? That's okay. That's okay.

Penny Williams [00:28:33]: Yeah.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:28:34]: But just to say, I know this is tough. Last night was really difficult. We had some things that happened in the house maybe. You know? Sometimes those things happen. And I'm here if you wanna talk. And if you don't wanna talk, you wanna go out and jump on your skateboard and go be with your friends, do that. Mhmm. That's okay.

Penny Williams [00:28:50]: Some radical empathy, I think, is in order. Mhmm. Yeah. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your insights about siblings, it's such an important conversation that we need to be having more often than I think we do. I'm so grateful for the work that you're doing in our communities and really helping families to navigate the complexities that sometimes are part of our families. For everyone who's listening, I wanna be sure that you know how to connect with doctor Samuelson and her organization, whether you learn more from them or maybe take part in the organization, I just really encourage you to seek out that connection, you can find links to the website and such and any resources that we've talked about during this conversation over in the show notes at parentingadhdandautism.com/245 For episode 245. And before we close, I just wanna thank you again, doctor Samuelson. It's been lovely to speak with you.

Doreen Samelson EdD, MSCP [00:29:58]: It's been wonderful. Thank you so much for inviting me, and I really appreciated the conversation. It's always great to meet another mom Yes. And share ideas. Thank you so much.

Penny Williams [00:30:08]: Yes. Thanks again, and I will see everyone in the next episode. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the Beautifully Complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingADHDandautism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com.

Thank you!

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I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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