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Being the Sibling of Someone with Autism


Autism is a disorder that affects the child’s brain before birth and leads to delayed development of either social or motor skills as he or she grows. Some signs can be seen in the prenatal stages but most families discover their child is suffering from Autism as certain behavioral issues develop before the age of three. It is estimated that at least one in 100 children suffers from one form of Autism or another and the number of children born with Autism is increasing every year.

There is currently little comfort for families dealing with autism in the house. Scientists are only just beginning to understand the disorder in its fully developed stages and have yet to pin down any definite causes or ideas for a cure. But there is hope for the children and their families throughout the child’s early educational life as advancements in teaching and communicating with a child who has autism are implemented in schools across the country.

However, the development of these skills is still slow and the stress can be overwhelming at times. This is particularly true not only for the parents, but the siblings of children with Autism.

Sibling Rivalry in the Autistic Household

It is natural that children have some sense of rivalry with their siblings, particularly the older over the youngest. More children in the house means that parental attention is divided and that there will always be certain needs that are overlooked for each of the children. This is particularly true for families with at least one child suffering from Autism. The needs of an Autisitc child have a tendency to overshadow the needs of the other children when it comes to parental dedication. It is natural for parents to want to provide for both of their children but every parent knows that there will always be sacrifices made. While it is natural for parents to think this way, depending on their age with their Autistic siblings is born, it is difficult for other children to acknowledge, accept or even comprehend.

How to Help Siblings Not Feel Underappreciated

The best way to keep other children in the family from resenting their Autistic sibling is to be open and honest about the child’s disorder and the stress that will affect everyone as the child grows and learns to communicate. Depending on the age of the sibling, it might be something that will help to alleviate some of the stress in the home. However, the younger the child, the difficult it is to explain so patience will be important in all communications about why one sibling is receiving more attention than they are.

The most important thing for parents to avoid is making the other child feel like their needs pale in comparison to the needs of an Autistic child. While it is true that they will not need as much supervision or development support, the emotional aspects of growing up with an Autistic sibling can be something that affects the child well into adulthood.

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