Siblings share a bond that’s unique and special. They know each other like no one else does, and whether their relationship is good or bad, it has a large impact on who they become. Siblings of children with ASD are in a position that brings challenges from a young age, yet allows them to be powerful advocates for their brothers or sisters.
- Having a child with ASD can be a challenge for the entire family. It can be especially difficult for siblings, who don’t have the coping strategies of adults. Sometimes, the behavior of the sibling with ASD can be embarrassing, distracting, or stressful. Without the right support, it’s easy for a neurotypical sibling to fall into patterns of acting out or withdrawing. On the other hand, these siblings may put themselves under pressure to be “good” so they don’t cause trouble for their parents, and they can end up feeling angry.
- Sibling relationships are complicated. This is true in every family, but for siblings of those with ASD, there’s another level of complication. They must not only learn to cope with the needs of a family member with ASD, but they also must be prepared to potentially care for their sibling after the parents have gone. While the relationship with a sibling with ASD can be positive as well as negative, it should be acknowledged that it brings with it responsibilities that don’t exist in typical families. Some people may feel cheated of a “normal” sibling relationship. They may choose not to start a family of their own, because of their feelings about their sibling with ASD.
- Neurotypical children need attention and support, too. Children with ASD require a great deal of parental attention, but parents must remember that their other children need them as well. It’s crucial for parents to set aside quality time focused on each child individually, regardless of their abilities.
- Talking openly about the situation benefits the whole family. Parents should clearly explain the diagnosis and what it means, remaining open to listening to their children’s questions as well as feelings about what’s going on in the family. Speak in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and how families work together to support each other
- There are some ways in which siblings of children with ASD benefit. Many people whose siblings have ASD report positive feelings about their experience with their siblings. There’s evidence that having a sibling with a disability can help a person to be more compassionate and empathetic, kinder, more tolerant, and more aware of the needs of others.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities and providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
As the year winds down and we start looking ahead to 2021, most of us set goals for the coming year. While you’re setting your goals, why not take the time to help your child set some as well? Teaching children the valuable skill of goal-setting is important because it’s something they’ll carry with them throughout their lives.
- Begin on a positive note. Brainstorm with your children, first making a list of things they do well, then looking for areas where they’d like to improve or learn something new. Consider “Three Stars and a Wish” as a planning exercise. Have the kids establish three “stars”, or strengths, and one “wish” of something to aspire to.
- Strive for goals that are both ambitious and obtainable. This year has been a challenging one for most students, so there’s likely to be an area in which your child doesn’t feel especially competent and would like to improve. By making sure the goals he or she sets are obtainable, you’ll help to build confidence.
- Choose some goals that are just for fun. Maybe your child wants to learn origami this year, or how to blow bubbles with bubblegum, or how to whistle. It makes working towards goals more interesting if there are aspirations in the mix that aren’t too serious.
- Turn wishes into goals. What’s the difference between a wish and a goal? It all comes down to having a plan. Help your child determine exactly how he or she will reach the goal you’ve set together, breaking it down into achievable steps.
- Write everything down. It’s helpful to have a visual reminder of the goals you’ve chosen, perhaps in the form of a chart. When you have a chart on the wall, you and your child can easily record progress being made toward achieving the stated goals.
- Set a timeline and check in periodically. Talk with your children about a reasonable length of time needed to achieve their goals. Establish expectations, not just for the main goal, but for the little steps along the way. Determine intervals at which you’ll check in to see how your child is feeling about the progress being made.
- Don’t assume the achievement is its own reward! While your child will feel a sense of accomplishment upon achieving the stated goal, rewards are a great motivator. This can be as simple as stickers on the chart along the way, or you can plan for a big reward once the goal is met.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities for fun with your kids and providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
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