Being the sibling of a child with autism may sometimes be difficult, but a bond between both children can prove extremely beneficial for the sibling with ASD.
Siblings of children with autism provide necessary socialization and are beneficial to the child's developing social skills. Children with autism benefit by having a sibling that can prompt them to use language, play games, and get involved with the child’s interventions and ABA therapy sessions.
It can be a struggle for parents who realizes they may be compromising their time and attention that they give to both children, especially when their energy is focused on getting their child with ASD the treatment they need. Feelings of guilt may arise, as well as the question of whether or not they are giving their other child the attention and support they need, and making sure that child is well adjusted to life with their sibling who has autism.
Fortunately there are some steps you can take to help your child understand and ease into life with their sibling with autism.
1. Be open about autism. Answer any questions your child may have about their brother or sister, and be honest about how autism affects their daily lives. You should expect your child to be curious about his or her sibling's programs and special needs, and make sure you are prepared to talk openly about them.
2. Let your child express their emotions. Remind your child that any feelings they may be experiencing are valid and important, and really hear them out. Set aside some alone time with your child to talk, just one-on-one. Let them know that you are always there to listen to their concerns, whether it be about their sibling or their own personal struggles.
3. Focus on the sibling's interests. Make time for your child to express themselves and explore their talents and interests. It's important to set aside time to engage with your child in these activities, just the two of you, as well as encourage the child to have their own separate play dates and events with friends. Most of all, it's important to reward your child and show gratitude toward them for being a good sibling and helping out. It can be frustrating and challenging sometimes, and it's important to let them know that their efforts don't go unnoticed and that you appreciate all they do!