Siblings of children with autism face unique challenges. They frequently struggle to understand why their relationship with their sibling doesn’t mirror those of their friends or that they see on television, and they may even become periodically resentful about the amount of attention the child with autism needs from their parents. Fortunately, there are things parents can do to support the relationship between their children. Follow these strategies to help your children forge a healthy and supportive bond.
For younger children in particular, autism can be confusing. Take the time to explain autism to your other children and let them know what they can expect when interacting with their sibling. Encourage them to ask questions, and ensure them that the door is always open to come to you with their questions and concerns. Let your children know that it is OK to sometimes feel frustrated, angry, and confused about autism and that sharing those feelings with you is welcome.
Make Your Children Allies
Acknowledge that sometimes your children have to use patience when interacting with their sibling with autism, and praise them for those interactions. By recognizing these behaviors, your children will feel fulfilled and positive rather than frustrated during tough times. Because your children also appreciate the attention from you, they will actively want to engage with their sibling with autism instead of you trying to force them to play together.
Encourage Your Children’s Friendships
Your children without autism will sometimes want to spend time with their friends without their siblings. Resist the urge to insist that your children always include their sibling so that they don’t feel resentment. These fulfilling friendships will only strengthen the family bond and alleviate the stressors that can arise when you’re dealing with autism as a family.
The Behavior Exchange understands that autism is something that impacts the whole family, which is why we also focus on the entire family and not just children with autism. To learn how we can help your family build the strong ties and connections you want, call our autism treatment center near Plano today at (888) 716-8084.