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Sibling Issues: Tips for Parents Dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder

"Any tips for a mom who has to constantly explain to the children who DON'T have autism (high functioning) how to get along with their brother who DOES?  Help!"

In most cases, ASD [High-Functioning Autism] is a condition in families where both parents and siblings must learn to adapt and understand the condition at the level they are able. 

While moms and dads are learning to cope themselves, it is often difficult to see that there are other children involved—children who may be suffering themselves from the confusion of understanding the nature of the disorder in their family.

As a parent, it’s important to understand that kids learn things at different rates and in different ways than adults. They have questions about how to understand the behavior of their sibling that need as much attention as the ASD child needs. As the family grows, more questions will arise, and all of the children in the family need to learn the best ways to adapt to the behaviors of the child on the autism spectrum.

How ASD gets explained to siblings depends upon the age of the sibling and on the particular problems the affected child is having. For some kids, they just need to know that their brother or sister has a brain condition that leads him/her to resist change or to become fixated on certain things. Other children have the maturity to understand the nuances of how difficult it is for the "special needs" child to understand the emotions of others and to communicate non-verbally with others.

Some siblings can act-out angrily as "the child who isn’t getting the family’s attention." Others find themselves being their “brother’s keeper,” fending-off comments and teasing from other kids who see their ASD brother or sister as a freak. A sort of unnecessary maturity is forced on the sibling to be the protector or go-between when it comes to other children and their autistic sibling.

As a mother or father, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open in discussing the problems that may come up or the ways everyone can cope with the disorder in the family. Family therapy helps in some cases and should be an option for all families dealing with sibling issues related to ASD.


•    Anonymous said... I DESPERATELY NEED HELP in this area too!
•    Anonymous said... i know its repetitive but just keep telling them no matteer how many tyms. it will eventually sink in. the non aspies get frustrated also.
•    Anonymous said... I say to my 'other' son that we have to practice patience. But my aspie son does not have too many different rules, he is treated the same as the others. He must learn the rules or not play. He receives the same punishments. The difference is upfront consequences, they need the outcome to logically understand why.
•    Anonymous said... my 12 year old son adores his 4 year old non-aspie sister..... she gets a little frustrated when he hugs her too hard....but that the worst of far.•    Anonymous said… I eventually got tough with the older... I said, you brother learns differently...
•    Anonymous said… I highly recommend sending the other kids to a Sibshop. It has helped my daughter a lot, and she is more confortable talking about her feeling regarding her brother. There are a bunch of good kid books on Amazon to help kids understand.
•    Anonymous said… Is simply told my other son that the one has autism. Try getting that Holly Robinson Peete book, it explains it well to other siblings.
•    Anonymous said… My aspie has two younger twin sisters. It took several attempts but after breaking it down to them and explaining to them that their brother processes information differently and went into detail ( on their age level) about what that meant. They have finally begin to understand what that means and have started getting along better. I guess it all boils down to education about Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… My middle child has AS and has an older and younger sister, the younger gets on fine with him but i found with the older (and with him as well) that it really helped sitting down with her and saying J has AS that means x y and z...which meant next time he did something she could say does he do this because he has AS? LIke wearing a jumper all day today when its been 30 degrees C.....
•    Anonymous said… My older two care less about the AS diagnosis. ..they think their brother should be like them period is really hard to explain to a 19 and 17 year old about something they don't believe in...they feel like I am being unfair.

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