Faced with this situation, the Tamanos didn’t plan on conceiving again so they could focus their attention and resources to Santi. That, and the fear of having another baby with the same condition made them think twice. Says Weena, “Initially we didn’t plan to have another child, but God knows better and we had Mike 3 years after Santi was born. We were still learning to cope with the condition, so I was very worried.”
Just the same, they had to face their fears. “I attended a conference on autistic children, and they were saying that if you have an autistic child, there’s an 18% chance that you would have another child with the same condition. If not that, it could be a different condition like dyslexia, ADD, etc., and at an even bigger percentage - about 68%! - so until now I still check on Mike, but thankfully it seems he’s ok.”
Because Santi and Mike go to the same school, Mike is used to dealing with kids with special needs. “He’s a great support to Santi, he’s very patient and generous with his brother.” They had to explain the situation carefully to Mike, “kasi pag may kailangan si Santi we’re so giving, pag sa kanya, hindi, like one time we were in the car and Santi was throwing a tantrum and he started pulling my hair, then Mike’s hair. Mike was holding back his tears and was trying to act brave, and he was just about 3 years old.”
“We tell him, ‘You know that Kuya has a condition, that’s why we’re not so strict with him.’ Even then, we’re always second-guessing if it’s the right thing to do, to lay all this on such a small child. It can both be physically painful and heartbreaking.”
Adel shares, “Children will always follow the lead of the parents. One of the reasons why Mike seems to be a good brother is because he also sees how we treat Santi. It’s easy to tell a child to do something, but ultimately he has to see that grounded in your actions.”
Because of Santi’s condition, they are preparing Mike to a future scenario where he may have to care for his brother. “Every year, our dilemma is whether to transfer Mike to a bigger school to expose him to a big environment and help him learn how to cope with pressures that are not there in a small school. But then we realize, if school is supposed to prepare you for life, then I can’t think of a better preparation than giving him this exposure.”
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