In our quest to improve the lives of children who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD for short) we sometimes forget about those on the sidelines: their siblings. Raising a child with ASD can feel all-consuming at times, and it can be easy to let your children who can fend for themselves more easily do just that while we focus on the child with special needs. While therapy for children diagnosed with ASD or Asperger’s is essential to their social growth and development, therapy for their siblings is also highly beneficial. Siblings of those on the autism spectrum can feel embarrassment around their peers when with their sibling, feel frustration and grief over the lack of interaction between the siblings, be the receiver of aggression from their sibling with ASD, and feel concern for their parents and their sibling. That is a lot to take on for a child, whether he or she is older or younger than the sibling with ASD.
If your child is young, explaining autism and what it means is important to allowing him or her to understand why his or her brother or sister is different than the brothers and sisters of peers. Frustration is normal, just keep explaining and keep facilitating that relationship. You may have to explain in different ways as they get older and their grasp of what ASD is changes. Allowing the siblings to form a strong bond is beneficial for both children.