Siblings

Telling a child early and often that his sibling has an ASD will help him understand and accept his sibling’s condition.  How and in how much detail you tell your typical child about ASDs depends on how old he is, but your objective should be to encourage a positive relationship among siblings. As a parent, you set the tone for how siblings learn to relate to their brother or sister’s ASD.

Research has shown that siblings can learn basic skills and teaching strategies that will help them engage and interact with their sibling with ASD. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, training family members about autism and how to effectively manage the symptoms has been shown to reduce family stress and improve the functioning of the child with autism. Siblings’ involvement with their brother or sister’s daily routine, treatments and therapies will make them more comfortable.

Support groups for siblings are available through local autism organizations, their school’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA), and autism web sites.  Many autism organizations engage siblings through creative writing, arts projects, and other outlets. Respite services and recreation services are also available for siblings.

Although growing up as the sibling of a brother or sister with autism will be difficult at times, most siblings manage to cope very well.  They often become advocates for their sibling with ASD or other disabilities, learn tolerance and compassion for others, and grow up to be resilient adults.