Bringing home a new baby is exciting, but when older siblings are involved, it’s also a bit of a challenge. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be even more challenging. How do you prepare your child with ASD for the presence of a new little brother or sister? Every child with ASD is different, but some principles remain the same.
- Prepare your child early. Children with ASD often struggle with change, so prepare your child as soon as possible for all of the changes a baby will bring into the household. If Mom is pregnant, talk about that, using clear language. If any major changes need to be made- switching rooms, perhaps- these should be made early on, to minimize the number of disruptions that occur all at once.
- Be as honest as you can. Introduce the concept of “baby” and let your child know that this is a new family member to love. However, don’t paint too rosy a picture. Answer your child’s questions honestly, explaining that some things will change when the baby arrives. Explain that babies can’t feed themselves, are up at night, cry, and need people to change their diapers. Especially for children with ASD who are especially sensitive to sensory stimuli, knowing what’s coming is important.
- Use pictures and stories. Draw pictures together of families with babies, show your child photos of babies, or use social stories to help your child understand what to expect. You might take the child to a playground to observe babies, or introduce him or her to a friend’s baby. You know your own child’s capabilities, and how best to help the child understand.
- Involve your older child. Giving your child a sense of ownership of the new sibling will help make the transition easier. Make sure to teach concepts like “fragile” and “gentle” so that your child is not inadvertently too rough with the new baby.
- Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Establish something special you do regularly with your older child, like a bedtime story, and continue doing this after the baby is born. Keep the daily routine as consistent as possible after the baby arrives.
- Be prepared for pushback. Understand that not every feeling your child has about the new baby will be positive. There will always be ups and downs in a family. Be patient with your child with ASD, and make sure you have a support system in place to help you manage once you bring the baby home.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. 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. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
If you have a child who is living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a related disorder, obtaining access to the right resources can be extremely beneficial. At STAR of CA, we offer a variety of services that are designed to help children with developmental disorders. For example, we offer an individualized behavioral intervention program for children who have disruptive and otherwise challenging behaviors. We also provide interventions for children who have delays in their socialization, communication, or self-care skills. If you’re in need of further support, we offer programs geared toward the needs of couples and families who are raising children with ASD, along with parent education services.
If you would like to learn more about the developmental services that we offer at STAR of CA, call us today at (805) 644-7827. We were founded in Ventura County in 2006, and we now work to provide as many communities as possible with the support and education they need to meet the challenges of ASD.
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