Welcoming a new baby to the family is a beautiful thing, but there’s inevitably many adjustments that need to be made—especially if there are siblings involved. Even for seasoned parents, the process can be daunting.
Felicia Shelly of Ontario, Canada, has a 6-year-old son, Tyler. Tyler was diagnosed with autism when he was 2, has attention deficit disorder, and was non-verbal until he was 3 years old.
Tyler is autistic and prone to meltdowns if he doesn’t stick to a routine. His mom was unsure how he would react to the new baby.
“I had no idea how he was going to respond,” 27-year-old Shelly said via Real-Fix. “I was concerned he wouldn’t want his brother around.”
Shelly took every precaution possible to make sure Tyler would be ready for the baby’s arrival. She constantly reminded him that a baby was coming, and he seemed excited about becoming a big brother.
“He would make comments like, ‘Mommy, your belly is getting bigger,’ and he would get upset when we went to ultrasounds because he thought the baby was coming out,” Shelly said.
“He seemed excited but Tyler’s main issue is processing and we wanted to make sure he understood what was going on.”
Shelly’s water broke on the night of August 16, 2017, while Tyler was asleep in bed.
Tyler’s mother normally gets him out of bed and lays out his clothes, a routine that must be followed or Tyler is liable to get upset.
“Part of his autism is that he has to be on routine, right down to things like me having to get his clothes out on weekends like I do for school in the week,” Shelly said. “If I don’t he cries and yells, sometimes throws things.”
His routine was disrupted the following morning when his grandmother got him out of bed. When he woke up, she told him there was a surprise waiting for him at the hospital.
Shelly had given birth a month earlier than anticipated, and Tyler didn’t suspect he was about to meet his new baby brother.
“He was totally surprised, but when he realized what was going on he was happy,” Shelly said. “It was very overwhelming.”
In a video recorded at the hospital, Tyler walks into his mother’s hospital room with a bouquet of flowers in his hands and a ball cap on his head. Shelly needn’t have been worried. He recognizes his baby brother immediately, then strokes the newborn’s head gently.
Tyler was eager to hold his baby brother. Sitting on the foot of his mother’s hospital bed, he cradled the newborn gently in his arms before giving it a peck on the forehead.
“I was so proud of how he reacted. Even after the video ended he didn’t want to let go,” Shelly said.
Shelly said Tyler has made the baby, named Jordan, part of his morning routine now. He spends as much time with the baby as he possibly can, and cuddles with him constantly.
“He was never one for cuddling either, even as a baby, but he just wants to hold Jordan and play with him,” Shelly said. “Having a new sibling has brought out another side to him.”