Sometimes when one child requires more attention or has different needs, siblings can feel left out or confused. It is important to have open and honest conversations with siblings about their important role in the family and how they can help their brother or sister.
Talking to Siblings
With younger siblings, the most important thing for them to know is that they are safe, their brother is safe and that you, the parent or guardian, love them. You can talk about how sometimes their brother may need different rules or consequences, which can be difficult during the early years when children want to see everything as being “fair”. Children with autism may require more time and attention, so it is important to set aside time to spend with just their sibling as well. Making sure their emotional needs are met can help alleviate negative feelings that may build up and cause them to lash out at their brother or you.
Older siblings can have a more in-depth conversation about what autism is and how it affects their sister. You can talk with them about how autism makes their sister’s brain work differently. You can help them understand the struggles their sister may have around social interactions or feel overwhelmed in certain situations where they are overstimulated. Show them how they can help their sister through modeling behaviors or knowing when to seek out adult support. Be sure that you’re also talking about their sister’s strengths and how thankful you are to have both of them as your family.
Understand that these conversations will not be a one-time event. You will need to have these conversations multiple times as your child matures and can begin to process the information on a deeper level. Make sure siblings feel heard and give them the tools they need to express themselves emotionally. When siblings are acting out, it can be easy to want to jump to the defense of their brother because he may not be able to verbally defend himself. Instead, try to stay neutral and listen to their sibling’s side of the story. Open communication will encourage more positive emotions.
Find some activities that you can enjoy as a family. Spending time together doing something you all can enjoy reminds everyone that you’re on the same team. If your daughter loves anime, something like a family movie night where one sibling chooses the snacks and the other one chooses the movie helps everyone feel like they have a say to create a fun experience for the entire family.
New Focus Academy Can Help
At New Focus Academy, we help adolescents struggling to form and maintain meaningful relationships. We also teach students methods to improve their functional living skills including self-care, homework, chores, and leisure planning.
We help to empower these students by teaching and practicing social, coping, organizational, and self-care skills. As they succeed in the program, they become more confident and self-assured as they deal with day to day life. Our approach focuses on helping students gain independence in daily activities and their social lives. Subsequently, students develop confidence and self-esteem as they find success in accomplishing activities independently. As they do this, they start to feel empowered, thus stopping this feeling of being a “mistake” in its tracks. For more information please call (844) 313-6749.