Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Autism - The Effects On Siblings Of Autistic Children

Oftentimes it is true that the child that makes the most noise, gets the most attention.
This is true in a lot of families and moreso in families with children with Autism.
Autistic children also require a lot more time and attention.
In a family with more than one autistic child, it is doubly so.
This could lead to a greater risk of sibling rivalry. Not for the challenges usually associated with these words but for attention.
With the care that Autistic children need, it would be easy for the unaffected child in the family to get a little lost in the shuffle.

Over time, this could lead to the unaffected child feeling resentful of their Autistic siblings and to begin a little attention getting of their own or behaviors.

In time, the stress involved with this internal family conflict could lead to a rift that may take a lifetime to heal. There are several methods to deal with this potential problem before it gets out of hand.

Each Autistic child is different and each regular child is different and therefore the way that you would handle each child is going to depend on their age and personality.

Time needs to be set aside for the sibling of an Autistic child.

Their "alone" time with their parents.

You may need to hire a caregiver or find a friend or family member to watch over the Autistic child during this time.

The unaffected sibling needs assurance that although their brother or sister gets most of the attention, that they are going to get a share.

It important that you keep your appointment with the child.

The outing doesn't have to be anything spectacular, just something that the two of you can share. It can be done with one parent at a time or with both.

It is by doing this that you are demonstrating that no matter how busy or hectic things are at home, that he or she is just as important to you.

Another simple way of reassuring the child is to tell them that you love them. Three little words that mean a lot, but that children need to hear.

A special touch or hug that the two of you can share to let them know that you do think about them.

The occasional note under their pillow or in their lunchbox to assure them that even when they are not with you, they are in your thoughts.

These things take but a moment of your time but could mean the world to a child who already feels that they have so little of your time.

Another thing that you can do if your children are of school age is to ensure that the work that they bring home from school is not destroyed by their Autistic sibling.

Unfortunately, due to the behaviours that some children with Autism have, some artwork especially is attractive to them and it may get ruined.

Make sure that you do have a special place that it can be put where it is out of harms reach.

The other thing that you can do is obviously talk to them about Autism in an age appropriate manner. Explain as best you can why their brother or sister does the things that they do.
Encourage them to be open about their feelings.

It is okay to dislike something that the Autistic child does, but that doesn't mean that they have to dislike the Autistic child.

Encourage participation in the fun things that the family can do as a unit. If the child with Autism is unable to handle outings, have a picnic complete with cloth and picnic basket on the lawn in the backyard.

Be creative.

By showing the sibling of a child with Autism that the family is important and by having them understand that their status in the family unit is by no means undermined by the fact that you need to spend more time with their siblings, the stronger and more secure the child will become.
And the less resentful.

This is extremely important. The sibling of a child with Autism will quite possibly become the decision maker for that Autistic child at some stage in the future.

Donna Mason has been a Registered Nurse for the past 16 years. She is the mother of 6 children, 3 of whom have varying degrees of Autism. For more information on Autism signs and symptoms, and to learn more about this mother's battle in the fight against this misunderstood condition, visit us on the web at:

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