I have three children, and my youngest son has special needs. How can I help my older kids understand that he needs extra time from me?
Kids with special needs can create unexpected stress on a family. In addition to normal demands of feeding and hygiene and supporting development, you may have doctor's appointments, therapy and emotional distress over your child's future. Siblings can get lost in the shuffle and may internalize the tension in your home by acting out or withdrawing. They crave affection and reassurance that everything will be OK.
Take advantage of the fact that your son has older siblings. Encourage them to take part in helping him be the best he can be by giving them a leadership role in his care. Include them in play therapy. Allow them to help with dressing or putting on braces or whatever his needs may be. Let them know that he will count on them for love and support throughout his life.
Also, try to schedule one-on-one time with each child, even if it's a few moments to go over homework or to read a book together at night. This consistent attention will support their understanding.