Having a child with autism requires a lot of time, patience, and planning which can take a lot of effort. Sometimes a child with autism takes so much effort that any siblings they have may at times be overlooked. Siblings of children with autism may deal a variety of different feelings, which if not addressed may turn into larger, more serious issues.
Common feelings siblings of a child with autism experience may include:
- Anger – Feelings of anger may emerge when your neuro-typical child misses out on planned events that get changed at the last minute. They may also feel anger because they may be witnessing problem behaviors on a daily basis which can create a stressful home environment.
- Guilt – You child may feel guilty that their sibling has autism and they do not. They may also feel guilty that their sibling has difficulty doing simple tasks that come easy to others.
- Confusion – Young children especially may not fully understand why their sibling is acting the way they are, or why they don’t want to play with them.
- Worry – Common worries may include, who will take care of my sibling when my parents are gone? Will my sibling ever be able to take care of themselves?
- Embarrassment – It is natural for kids to feel embarrassed by their sibling that is different than other kids and who engages in behaviors that others, especially their peers do not understand.
- Jealousy – Children with special needs require a lot of attention, which may cause any typically developing siblings to feel left out or neglected, which in turn can cause jealousy.
How to help:
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings and listen to how they are feeling without placing judgment.
- Be open and honest with your child. Do not hide the diagnosis and make sure that when they are old enough, to let them know exactly what autism and the associated characteristics.
- For younger children, find books relating to the topic that you can read to them and then talk through it with them in a developmentally appropriate way.
- Be sure you designate time to spend with your children who do not have autism so they do not feel left out or neglected.
- Look for local sibling groups or support groups for your child to give them the opportunity to meet other children who are in the same situation.
Even if your child seems like they are doing well, it is important to take some time each day to sit and talk and let them know that you are always available to listen and support them in any way.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!