Social And Language Development Of Nonautistic Siblings
Childhood development studies provide evidence that although some siblings of children with autism experience language and social skill difficulties, many siblings develop social and language skills in typical age-appropriate ranges.
A 2003 Hebrew University of Jerusalem study compared the language abilities of 27 siblings of children with autism to 23 siblings of children with mental retardation of unknown etiology and 22 siblings of children with developmental language disorders . The study analyzed the three groups of siblings using formal language tests as well as testing for IQ and academic skills. The researchers found that siblings of children with autism did not exhibit language skill problems.
A 2007 University of Washington study contradicts the Hebrew University findings. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Autism Center and Center on Human Development and Disability studied the language, social interaction, cognitive, imitation and play skills of 42 toddler siblings of children with autism and 20 toddlers with no family history of autism. The nonautistic siblings had lower scores in comparative IQ and in the use of words or expressive language and social smiles. Parents of study participants noted that some of the children experienced noticeable delays in social skills by 13 months. Researchers urged early intervention for nonautistic siblings to make sure that they do not fall behind.
Teenage And Child Siblings Of An Autistic Person
You may feel that your autistic brother or sister doesnt get told off as often as you do and that your parents give them more attention. As a sibling this may make you feel angry, sad, jealous, frustrated and/or confused. Watching ourWhat is autism?video may help you understand why your sibling acts in the way that they do.
Bridget shares her experience of having an autistic sister:
“Even now I still find it hard to deal with. I’m a lot more patient with my sister than I used to be, and I’m trying to be a better sibling to her. I sometimes slip and get into a bad mood – but hey, I can’t be perfect all the time. I’m still getting used to the whole concept of autism, and I don’t really understand all about it.”
Its important to remember that your parent/s dont love you any less than your autistic sibling. It could be that you dont require the same level of support that your sibling does, and so your parent/s feel they are able to trust you to do certain things alone. Although it may be difficult, try to speak to your parent/s to tell them how you feel, you may feel more comfortable to do this by text or email. They may be able to arrange some time when it can just be you and them. If you cant talk to your parent/s, then try to talk to an adult in school, friend or ahelpline.
Diagnosis In The Family
Hi my name is Brooke Segal. I am 16 years old. I live in a loving home with two very loving parents and an older sister who I adore and is my best friend. Growing up we always knew my sister was different. She was unlike most of the extroverted kids who surrounded her. At a young age doctors diagnosed her with ADD and ADHD but my parents knew there was more to it than that. After many years of therapists and Doctors, and at age 16, she was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. What did this mean to me? Well it just meant that my sister finally had a name behind the things we had been seeing all these years. It didnt mean I loved her any less, and it definitely didnt mean I was going to treat her any differently. Today, my sister is 18 and it has been two years since her diagnosis. Im not going to sugar coat it, my life having a sister with Aspergers has not been easy. Im going to take you through my life of having a sister on the spectrum. I hope someone can read this and say wow, someone else understands the struggle I am going through, because for me there arent many resources out there. This is a firsthand account of what it has been like.
As we are getting older it has become so hard to let go. I wish when i was younger someone would have said to me to let my sister be independent and learn to do more on her own.
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Build A Supportive Network
Youre not alone. Even on your most difficult days, youre surrounded by people who can help you. Strengthen that community of support, so youll have even more resources to lean on when you need them.
Your supportive community can include:
- Your parents. Feelings of guilt, anger, and concern are normal, and your parents expect you to move through those emotions. Talk with them about how you feel, and ask for their advice to help you work through your feelings.
- A counselor. Researchers say its common for siblings of autism-impacted people to have mental health challenges. Its possible the genes that cause autism in your sibling spark your own tendency for depression or anxiety, or the pressure you feel as a sibling might make you vulnerable to challenges. If youre struggling, a therapist can give you the help you need to feel better.
- Peer support. Youre not the only sibling of a person with autism in the world. In fact, youre probably not the only one in your community. Ask your parents or counselors to connect you with other families just like yours. Ask how they handle the challenges you face. Peer support like this can help you feel less alone, and you just might pick up a few coping mechanisms you can use.
Establish Open Communication With The Siblings About Your Child With Autism
Even if the siblings dont verbalize it, they feel the extra stress that comes along with having a child with autism in the home. As the siblings get older, their special needs sister or brother can do embarrassing things, and life can be pretty unfair when the child with autism always dictates the familys schedule. Allowing the sibling to come to you and share how they feel without judgment will open the opportunity to provide encouragement to overcome this adversity. Special needs siblings learn to deal with criticism and intolerance early in their lives, stated MariAnn Gattelaro, M.S., CRC, LPC. Both of which will serve them well in the real world.
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Create Special Time At Least Once A Week With The Siblings
It doesnt have to be a big event or fancy occasion. Maybe its playing a game when your special needs child is in bed, going out for ice cream during therapy, or letting them pick the movie one afternoon. These small gestures remind them they are just as loved and important as the special needs child.
My Brother Is Autistic
My Brother is Autistic is a volume in the Lets Talk About It book series. Written for children in pre-school and early grades, these books cover sensitive topics, and invite children to channel their feelings. My Brother is Autistic describes the daily life, challenges, and victories of a child with autism from the perspective of his brother. Each page is illustrated, and offers a different concern that many siblings have about their brother or sister. The back of the book also includes information for parents.
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Encourage The Siblings To Form Friendships With Other Siblings Of Special Needs Kids
Just like adults, kids benefit from a support network of friends who understand and share the same experiences, said Sibshop Facilitator, Rose Henke. We, as parents, seek out other parents of kids with autism because we need to feel less alone. Somehow we are more able to cope when we know there are others going through the same difficulties. The siblings will feel less isolated when they connect with someone their age who understands what they are going through.
Simple Ways You Can Help Strengthen The Asd Sibling Relationship
By Liz Burton
Growing up with autism can be a challenge for everyone: for the child whose view of the world differs from those around them, for the parents who go the extra mile to look after and keep their child with autism happy, and even for the brothers and sisters who struggle to connect with their sibling. The relationship between two siblings can become very strained when one child is on the spectrum. With your guidance and a few parenting changes, however, you can help them grow and share in one anothers joy.
Here are some tips for nurturing a healthy relationship between your child and their autistic sibling. None are sure-fire strategies, but rather, suggestions that may get you thinking about different approaches for fostering a healthy childhood and for helping the children bond:
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How Parents Can Support The Siblings Of Autistic Children
Being an autistic child can be hard, but what about their non-autistic brothers and sisters? There are quite a few issues they face as well, particularly when relating to their siblings and everything around their condition. Understanding autism is harder when youre young, but there are many ways to help support them as a parent.
In this post, we look at the challenges faced by siblings of autistic kids. We also suggest ways in which they can be supported in relation to understanding autism, from talking about their concerns to communication aids.
To young children, explaining something as complex as autism or Aspergers Syndrome can take a while. Theres so much to mention, including sensory issues and communication problems. On top of that, the concept of autism may seem new and frightening to many a non-autistic child, leaving them hesitant to talk to their autistic brother/sister.
As your non-autistic son or daughter gets older, they may have concerns about what happens to their autistic sibling in adulthood. Will they have to look after them? Do they have to assume some of your responsibilities as a parent when youre a little older? Will their brother/sister be able to live and work independently?
Try to be gentle when explaining autism and make sure when you do, youre not too serious. The last thing you want to do is make it seem like being autistic is life-threatening its a condition, not a disease.
The Benefits Of Being An Autism Sibling
In this book, we have pointed out many of the struggles that an Autism sibling goes through. The good news is, having a sibling with Autism has its benefits as well. It was stated that your typical child will never have a typical relationship with an Autistic sibling and that is true but it can also be even better. There is a special bond that exists between them that cannot exist between neurotypical siblings.
Being a sibling of a child with Autism teaches kids valuable lessons at a very young age. They learn to be kinder, more compassionate people. You will find that they always treat others with respect and are just better humans. They will always stand up for the person being bullied and will always accept peoples differences. As a parent, they will make you really proud.
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How To Talk To Your Child About An Autistic Sibling
While most adults understand how to deal with an autistic child, younger children don’t. Parents should explain to their child, who is normal, about autism and how to deal with his autistic sibling.
One day, finding her 5-year-old son Suresh brooding, Gomati playfully enquired, “What is my little scientist thinking?”
Still immersed in his thoughts, Suresh asked, “Mama, why doesn’t my brother play with me like Ramu’s brother?”
Suresh’s question made Gomati freeze in her tracks. She thought for some time and then decided that it was time to explain to Suresh why his brother didn’t act or behave like siblings of other children.
Are you also a parent who is raising a normal child along with an autistic child? Does reading about what Gomati decided to do make you feel that you should also follow her example?
If so, then here’s how you can explain your autistic child’s behaviour to your unaffected child and help him understand his sibling better.
Educate him about meltdowns: Most autistic children experience meltdowns. A meltdown happens when the child is unable to control the intense unpleasant feelings that he is experiencing. During a meltdown, an autistic child can scream, shout, bite or indulge in other such actions. If you know what actions or conditions trigger a meltdown, ask your normal child to desist from doing things that can trigger meltdowns in his autistic sibling.
Dont Forget Me The Importance Of Sibling Support
Rachels face lights up anytime she talks about Josh, her younger brother with autism. Hes so funny, she says. He goes around the house making sure all the lights are turned off even when were still in the room. When Rachel is feeling down, Josh is quick to cheer her up with a dog video, or a spot-on recitation of a local TV ad. Though Rachel acknowledges that Joshs needs sometimes create extra work for her parents, she feels that she learns every day from Joshs perseverance and the pleasure he takes in simple things. I wouldnt want him to be anyone other than who he is, she says.
Dylans experience has been different. His big brother James was his favorite playmate when he was little. Dylan was the best gift we could ever have given James, says the boys mom. He taught James how to play, and he would do anything to make him laugh. But as time went by, Dylan began to surpass James in academics, in social skills, in self-care and it became increasingly difficult for the boys to find common ground. Dylan was ready to move on to big kid interests, says their mom, while James was still content to watch cartoons. As James grew older, he developed aggressive behaviors and sometimes had meltdowns in public, creating enormous stress for the whole family. Dylan couldnt help but feel angry, resentful, and disconnected from his brother.
Here are some tips to support the emotional well-being of siblings of all ages:
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Siblings Can Learn From Each Other
An Israeli study found that kids on the autism spectrum who have an older brother or sister demonstrated higher levels of social skills compared with kids on the autism spectrum who grew without a brother or sister . This might be explained by the fact that playing together with their siblings allows kids on the autism spectrum to learn and practice social and communication skills . In these cases, it seems that the relationship between siblings is very similar to a typical sibling relationship, where the older siblings lead the interaction, and the younger ones learn from them. Children on the autism spectrum with younger siblings can also play with their brothers or sisters and practice social skills.
Siblings of kids on the autism spectrum might be more developed in their empathic abilities , and they also say that they learn a lot, thanks to the special abilities and talents of their siblings.
Allow The Siblings To Be Part Of The Team
I remember a time when my son was begging for his own therapist because he felt so left out. Giving siblings simple tasks to help your special needs child allows them to become part of the team. Sometimes love must be fostered before it becomes a choice. With encouragement, my son became our best therapist doing silly play and engaging his sister in ways no one else could. Today they have a beautiful relationship that is beneficial to them both. It touches my heart to see my daughters love for her brother and to know he will always choose to take care of her.
This article was featured in Issue 71 Navigating A New Year
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Explaining Autism To Children
Common sense tells us and research supports the idea that children need to understand what autism is all about. The rule of thumb: Do it early and do it often! It is important that your children know about autism and that the information you give them is appropriate for their developmental age. From early childhood, they need explanations that help them understand the behaviors that are of concern to them. For the preschool-age child this may be as simple as Rick doesnt know how to talk, while for the adolescent, it may involve a conversation about the possible genetics of autism.
The key is to remember to adjust your information to your childs age and understanding. For example, very young children are mostly concerned about unusual behaviors that may frighten or puzzle them. An older child will have concerns of a more interpersonal nature, such as how to explain autism to his/her friends. For the adolescent, these concerns may shift to the long-range needs of their sibling with autism and the role they will play in future care. Every age has its needs, and your task is to listen carefully to your childs immediate concerns.
Autism & Siblings: How My Autistic Brother Shaped My Life
Its not uncommon for brothers and sisters of autistic people to find themselves as part of an invisible majority, in view of our invisible disability. With siblings on the spectrum usually requiring the lions share of attention, brothers and sisters of autistic people can report feeling withdrawn and isolated .
The thing is, siblings of autistic people are some of the most brilliant, caring and steadfast people you will ever meet. So, despite this trade being more than one-sided, it is unlikely that you will hear a bad word about it from siblings of autistic people, due to their ever-considerate and ever-selfless nature.
Yet how can we, as a community, learn to care for these people who do so much for us, if they wont admit there may be problems. Well, today I have roped in my sibling and told her to hit me with the truth of what its like growing up with a sibling on the spectrum, in the hope that this will help us to understand how autism affects our siblings and what we can do to help
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