Connection or Disconnect : Autism and Siblings

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How do parents explain to their other children that their brother or sister has autism? When a child in the family has autism, it affects the whole family. Parents who have to care for a child with autism are often met with extraordinary time constraints, leaving little time to give other children in the family what they need. In most situations, the other children are most likely aware that their brother or sister is different, so it is best to be honest and give the child information that is appropriate for their age level. This often initiates a feeling of responsibility in the non-autistic child and also encourages them to understand and care for their autistic sibling. Something very interesting that I found was that younger siblings are often very understanding and accepting of their autistic siblings. They often find ways to communicate and play with their autistic sibling.
However, older children often struggle with feelings of anger and embarrassment because of their autistic sibling. They become frustrated by having to make sacrifices for their siblings and may feel embarrassed towards their behavior. This is bound to occur but it is best to work through it and many siblings are able to get over these feelings with time. In fact, many siblings of children with autism often have a special connection with one another. Compared to other children their age, they tend to be more mature, more compassionate, and have developed coping skills which will help them for the rest of their life. Keep in mind though that correlation does not infer causation but there is a strong suggestion that siblings of autistic individuals tend to have these characteristics.It would be interesting to compare the dynamic of autistic sibling relationships with those of conventional siblings.

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Interesting blog! Although it can be frustrating at times for siblings to cope with their autistic sister or brother, I think that it helps both siblings learn to grow as individuals. They feed off of each other's energy and are bound to form a strong relationship, maybe even stronger than a family that doesn't have an autistic individual. Because those with autism tend to communicate differently, they may have a stronger relationship with their family because of a deeper connection and more personal strengths between them.

Growing up I had a close friend with a brother that had autism. The comment above is exactly correct in thinking that because of the difficulties in communicating through language, the emotional and physical connection formed between siblings when one has autism is on such a deeper level than the bond that most siblings get to experience. It may sound cliche but "Actions speak louder than words" is the only way to explain how something like this could occur.

I completely agree with your article and the comments. I think that the sibling of an autistic child does indeed sense that their sibling is "unique not different" and that they should protect them in any way. While I have no experience with anyone close to me being autistic, I can relate to the fact that being close in age with my siblings I would protect or relate to them in any way that I could. It is easier for children close in age to relate than it is for the parent who is struggling to cope with these unknown outcomes of having a autistic child.

I agree with this entry. I work very closely with children who have autism and can witness some of the interactions between the siblings. When a child grows up only knowing what it's like to have a sibling with autism, I would think their response would be different from a child who was considered an only child and then an onset of autism occurs in the family.
Being a parent of a child with autism, can definitely be time consuming. The children have a lot of specialized needs that must be met in order to allow the child to not have an stressful day. It seems that as the sibling grows up, they also take a role of helping the their sibling with autism.

I agree with everything that was said in this blog. I know it would be very difficult to have a sibling that has autism. I think the right thing for the parents to do is to tell the other siblings as soon as they are old enough so they can try to understand what this disability entails. I can easily see why an older sibling might feel embarrassed and ashamed to have a sibling that has autism. Although it would take a lot of time getting used to, I think anyone that has a sibling with autism is at a great benefit over others because they will learn how to be patient and how to communicate well with basically everyone. I work at Lifetime Fitness in the child center and there are a couple children that come that has autism. Working with these children have made me appreciate and respect parents that have children with autism very much. I never knew how much of a responsibility it is.

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This page contains a single entry by keblu001 published on February 23, 2012 4:32 PM.

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