• Anonymous

Autism and Sibling Relationships

Updated: 2 days ago

If you have a brother or a sister, you will agree it is a roller coaster of emotions. One day your best buds, next day your mortal enemies. But you love each other nonetheless. If you have an autistic child, you may feel concerned about the relationship with their sibling and vice versa. Here's some insight and tips that can help your children create a positive relationship.

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Autistic Children & Siblings

A sibling relationship is a beautiful bond that lasts forever. So it's understandable, as a parent, to worry about your children's relationship as they grow up. Every parent wants their children to get along and to build a strong bond.


Now, just because a parent want's there to be a strong bond doesn't necessarily mean it will happen... or not right away. Some siblings are inseparable whilst others are not. This differs from family to family whether your children are neurodivergent or neurotypical or you a mixture of both!


One thing to remember when you have siblings who are either autistic or neurotypical is that they will both process the world in different ways. They will each have their own way of dealing with different situations and will have different needs. This can cause frictions sometimes between siblings, especially when they are younger and may not understand why everyone doesn't act the same way.


For example, let's look at building a Lego house set. Now a neurotypical child may read the instructions and build the Lego house to a tee. An autistic child may see the Lego blocks, build the house, but add or change things around using their imagination. Neither way is wrong, it's just different ways of approaching the same situation. But the neurotypical child may find it annoying that their sibling isn't following the instructions. Whilst your autistic child may be annoyed at their sibling for not letting them add to the building.


So, sometimes it is just about understanding one another and seeing it from their point of view. Like understanding it is good to follow instructions but there is also benefits of being creative to create an improved building.


(This is just an example. This can be vice versa, it's just used to illustrate the point 🙂)



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Definition:

Positive Sibling Relationship- Siblings who love, support, and encourage each other.


(This doesn't mean there wont be fighting, rather that when negative emotions do come along, they won't dominate the relationship.)

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Tips To Help

Here are a few tips that can help create a positive sibling relationship.


1. Help Your Children Understand Each Other

The best way to help build a stronger bond between your children is to help them understand each other. Show each child that whilst they may have differences, they are still equal and deserve the same amount of love and respect.


You could start off by talking about autism and neurotypical. This could include things like:

  • what autism and neurotypical is

  • behaviours

  • different needs

You can speak to them about anything you feel they need to know. You don't need to do this all at once. You can gradually talk them about bits along the way or when you feel they are able to understand, to help your child understand what is happening and why.


You might find it useful to have a one on one with your child and let them ask you any questions they have about their sibling. This gives your child the chance to understand why their neurotypical sibling or their autistic sibling is acting a certain way without getting feelings hurt. You can then answer their questions and make sure they understand the truth about their sibling rather than any misinformation they may pick up.



2. One on One Time

One issue that can sometimes crop up in families is that one child may feel left out by their parents. One of your children may feel that they aren't as loved as their sibling or that their sibling is 'the favourite'. This can lead to sibling rivalry and cause hurt feelings all around. This can happen to any child, whether they are neurotypical or neurodivergent.


Now, this doesn't mean that you are favouriting one child over the other. But sometimes a child can feel this way. Instead of blowing this off, validate their feelings by taking the time to listen to why they feel this way.


One way to avoid this issue is by making sure to carve out some time during the day or week where you have specific one on one time. This could be anything from having a sit down after school with their favourite drink & snack or reading a book together, anything that you and your child will enjoy and shows them that they are loved and matter just as much.


By doing this, your child won't feel left out but instead feel loved and increase their sense of belonging in the family. This will increase their happiness which can be spread into creating a positive relationship with their sibling.



3. Fun Time!

Children love to have fun and play. Playing helps children to create a bond, so find out what your children like to do and add that into the mix. For example, your children may love to role play and make forts. You can then give them all the supplies they need, like pillows and blankets etc. They can then proceed to play and make some fun memories.


By doing something as simple as this, can help your children connect to one another. Whether this is a hobby, activity, or something silly. All you need to do is figure out what your children all enjoy and encourage them to do it together (even if it does end up a bit messy!).


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