Sibling Support

For Parents

For Siblings

Sibling Events


For Parents raising siblings of children with autism

Keys to raising siblings of children with autism -

Educate

  • To give all of your children a better understanding of the situation:
  • provide details of their sibling's autism in language they can understand
  • explain what to expect when interacting with their sibling
  • explain ways that they can help their sibling

Allocate special time for each child in the family

  • set aside part of every day for 1:1 time with each of your children (even a small amount of time is better than no time at all)
  • encourage the sibling of the child with autism to participate in activities outside your home to build their confidence and give them a sense of their own identity, apart from the special needs of their sibling
  • notice everything that your child is doing right - especially the little things - and be sure to provide lots of encouragement so they feel proud of themselves for their big and small accomplishments Communicate
  • your children will learn healthy ways to express their feelings from you: be openly expressive about positive and negative feelings, including experiences related to their sibling's autism
  • make sure they know it's normal to feel angry, sad, jealous, anxious, embarrassed, etc.
  • let them know it's best to discuss uncomfortable feelings outloud with someone they can trust, instead of keeping everything bottled up inside
  • openly discuss ways to deal with peer and public reaction to their sibling's behaviour so they do not become overly anxious or distressed when a difficult situation arises Join a sibling support group
  • participation within a group for siblings of children with special needs will allow them to meet others who have experienced what they are experiencing and will help them relate emotionally
  • participation in a group will also allow them to express emotions that they may not feel comfortable sharing within their own family (because they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause additional burden to their parents)

- adapted from Access Integration Newsletter, Children's Integration Support Services (Ottawa) Articles for parents

- Autistic Kids: The Sibling Problem written by Amy Lennard Goehner published December 24, 2007 by www.time.com

- Quote from Lindsay Moir, Educational Advocate, re: Siblings (published online February 15, 2008: "Make sure that you schedule [your] time around the other children [who do not have autism] too. The typical child will be assumed to have special knowledge and insight (AND THEY DO . . . ) but they need time with Mom and Dad, time with friends, time with their classmates. Many conferences and associations now recognize this fact and schedule activities and discussions exclusively for the siblings. ... I [occasionally encounter] stories of schools relying on an older brother to intervene in behaviour management situations . . . the sibling can be part of the plan . . . but they should not BE the plan. They can be the occasional babysitter, but not the ONLY babysitter. They will always have a special role in the exceptional child's life — don't burn them out by age 15."


For Siblings of brothers and sisters who have autism

You are not alone! Here are some thoughts that will help you understand that you are not alone:

  • Your sibling's autism is not your fault. Many siblings of children with autism feel that they are responsible for their brother or sister's disability, but they are not. You haven't done anything to cause it! Actually, watching and learning from you is probably a big reason why your brother or sister has made progress learning new skills.
  • Your feelings of anger, jealousy, sadness, anxiety and embarrassment are all normal. These feelings are normal, and are probably because of the larger amount of responsibility you have as a sibling of child with autism. But, make sure you talk about these feelings with your mom or dad or someone close to you, or else your emotions might start to overwhelm you.
  • You are not forgotten. A child with autism takes up a lot of his or her parents' time. But this doesn't mean you have been forgotten, it only means that your mom or dad might need to be reminded that you want them to spend time with you, too. Don't be afraid to ask your mom and dad for some special time with them, just for you.
  • It's okay to ask questions. It's okay to ask questions to help you understand your brother's or sister's autism. Asking questions might help you understand more about what they are going through, and how you can help.
  • There is information available for siblings. Don't be afraid to join a sibling support group so you can meet other kids like you, who have some of the same experiences and feelings you do as a sibling of a child with special needs. You'll find out you really aren't alone!

- adapted from Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth - Durham Region Newsletter.


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