Autism Online Magazine

Siblings of Children with ASD: What Are Their Challenges and Benefits

Siblings of a child with ASD can result in tough experiences, but at the same time can give them enriching life, they can grow up as a compassionate, independent and more tolerant person. Those kids will be able to understand better difficult situations, and they can be exactly what a person autism needs to develop their abilities and skills.

Explaining ASD to the siblings

The most important part of a good cohabitation between them will be explications. As parents, take time to talk with your typically developing children and make them try to understand what are the limitations of their sibling, how they can interact and play with them, and that ASD in their sibling isn’t their fault.

Remember that the explication will depend on the age of your typically developing children, a five-year-old can think that the ASD is the reason behind why a sibling can play as he or she do, but a 16-year-old can comprehend that a sibling with ASD will face many challenges and his or her role will be to support and be there.

Bad feelings

Typically developing children can be understanding and treat their siblings as the most precious thing that will appear in their lives, but bad feelings are normal between all siblings.

  • Jealousy: your children can start to feel jealous of the amount of time that you dedicate to your autistic child, so try to create family activities that include all the members, and also time alone with your typically children, because they need you and sharing time with them is precious.

  • Playing time: kids into the spectrum will need different games to play, but even when they are paying the same and regular game, sometime they will feel discouraged because a brother or sister doesn’t play the way they want. It would be good if you can find a sport or activity that can make them play together without worries.

  • Angry: they can show angry when they see that their autistic sibling get out with house chores and other responsibilities at home; also they can feel angry when someone is bullying their siblings or making fun of them in a family trip. You must teach them that it is a bad way to face these situations.

  • Protection: for typically children it would be normal to overprotect their brother or sister with ASD, it doesn’t matter what are their feelings towards them, they are their siblings, they are their family, protection and loyalty will be important. But sometimes can be a little too much, talk with them and explain how they can help them without suffocating them.

  • Stress: children with autistic siblings can feel pressure and stress, because of their routines, school and family interactions. They can even feel your own stress levels and think that you can finish with a divorce or are fighting constantly, so try to assure your kids that it is tough but everything is fine, and love is important in the family.

Making time for them

Try to spend all the time that you can with them, they will try to help in everything that they can, and that deserve a reward, because knowing what you as parents and their siblings with ASD are facing, they will try to put aside their own problems and concerns.

  • Create, in the family schedule, little times during the day to spend with them, maybe at lunchtime speak with them or make them help you with the preparation, read to them at bedtime or set one hour dedicated to homework, that way you assured to share time with them.

  • Always listen to what they want to talk with you; maybe it is a small thing to tell, but for them, it can be a huge thing and they will feel that for you they are important too.

  • Try to coordinate the same activity for both of your children. Like a picnic in the park, a trip to the beach, a visit to the museum or aquarium, or a simple a sport that both can enjoy. You will create a major bond between and with them.

  • Make an activity with he or her at least once a month; it can be just one parent and the child or both parents and the child. For that, you will need the help of your family or friends, but it can be very simple to achieve. Forming a bond with the child is important.

At the end it doesn’t matter the amount of time that you spend with your child; the important thing will be to make them feel care and appreciated, that way they can have a better understanding of the situation that you as parents are dealing with, and all the challenges that their sibling is facing. Come to Autism Soccer to learn more about our programs where your children can feel cherish and happy!

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