Yes, My Sibling Has Autism

The prospect of raising a child with autism can be a daunting one for parents, but it also affects the other children in the family and other family members. Many children with autism require a structured environment and a familiar routine in order to function and behave properly. Parents of autistic children often feel that they cannot meet the demands of the entire family since an autistic child can monopolize their time and attention. Siblings with an autistic brother/sister can have a stressful home life. Parents must create an environment for the other children in the family to cope with the prospect of having a sibling with autism.

Yes, My Sibling Has Autism

Living with Autism

For those living with autism, everyday activities and social interactions with the public can be very difficult. What we sometimes seem to overlook is the fact that these children have the same issues at home as out in public or in school. The siblings of these children have a much different home life and childhood than a home unaffected by autism. In an article written for autism-society.org, the identified several stress factors for siblings whose family is affected by ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Listed below are some of the factors that siblings may have to experience:

  • Embarrassment around peers; jealousy regarding the amount of time parents spend with their brother/sister
  • Frustration over not being able to engage or get a response from their brother/sister
  • Being the target of aggressive behaviors
  • Trying to make up for the deficits of their brother/sister
  • Concern regarding their parents’ stress and grief
  • Concern over their role in future caregiving

Not all children will experience these situations, but they should be aware of them. We, as parents, must give all our children the skills and education in order to enjoy their time at home.

How to foster Sibling Bonding with an Autistic Child?

  • The number one thing we can do is educate our children about autism. The article for autism-society.org points out that this should be done often and early in your child’s life. These explanations need to be clear and age-appropriate in order to explain their sibling’s out of the ordinary behavior.
  • For a younger preschool-aged child, the simple explanation that their sibling doesn’t know how to talk may be appropriate, while an adolescent age sibling may have a conversation about the genetics of autism.
  • It is important to listen to your child’s questions and concerns as to how ASD may affect them. Sometimes small children can be fearful of their autistic sibling’s outbursts. What may be of concern to your child is the fact that they cannot form a tight bond with their autistic sibling since their play skills are underdeveloped and their tantrums can end playtime abruptly. These young children can be taught skills that can help them such as making sure they have their brother/sister’s attention, giving simple instructions, and praising proper play.
  • A great way to foster sibling bonding is the use of the Tuzzles Kiddie Rocker. It allows up to three children to enjoy the sensation of a teeter-totter either indoors or outdoors.
  • For children who love sports, the Four Ring Basketball Stand has different height levels and coupe diameters so it can be enjoyed by children of all abilities and skill level.
  • A great activity that brothers and sisters can play together is the balancing game. Not only could it be a fun follow the leader game, but it also helps improve coordination and gross motor skills.
  • For children who might need a little bit more of a challenge, the Gonge Summerski can be what the doctor ordered. While it looks simple enough to use it is actually quite difficult for two people to stay in step with each other. It helps train basic motor skills and develops coordination, not to mention working in tandem with another person.
  • Any group activity has the potential to help traditionally developed children bond with their ASD siblings. In the home setting, it may require a little imagination and creativity but anything that helps the children interact with each other will help them understand their autistic sibling and help that sibling develop social interaction skills and possibly motor skills.
  • The use of tunnels, tents and even play panels can be incorporated into everyday play. There is a wide variety of options that can be used on the playground or even at home. Through play and social interaction, hopefully, siblings affected by autism can create a lifelong bond.
     
Yes, My Sibling Has Autism     Yes, My Sibling Has Autism     Yes, My Sibling Has Autism
Gonge Summerski     Four Ring Basketball Stand     Tuzzles Kiddie Rocker


Many children who have siblings affected by ASD may feel that they are forgotten about or neglected a little bit. It is important to set aside some special time for these children whether it’s once a week or just a few minutes at bedtime. While it may be impossible to dedicate the same amount of time to your child with autism as your other children, it is important to make them at least feel special to their parents. While growing up with a brother or sister affected by ASD can be trying, the experience often makes them choose careers to help those affected by autism. It’s in this way that they can turn a negative experience into a positive one. In an article written by Barbara Cain for ideas.time.com, she interviewed siblings of autism and found that while at times they can resent their brother or sister they also develop a fierce devotion to the point where they feel like they are their brother/sister’s keeper. It’s this family dynamic that paints autism not as a medical crisis, but as a family crisis in general.

 

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