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Autism: Offering Support to Siblings

By Karly Nowak | Posted on 01.21.2014 | 0 comments
Autism: Offering Support to Siblings
You often see stories taking you further into the life of the child with special needs or the child’s parents, but what about the siblings? Having a child with autism or Asperger syndrome can require more attention, but siblings often face their own struggles that are sometimes overshadowed. 
At Jordan Creek Elementary in West Des Moines, IA, students connect through a special club. Here, the kids come together for support, talk about their difficulties, and pass no judgment. 
Special education teacher Katie Hoover currently organizes the club that Jackson Begolka, a student, created four years earlier. The students generally lead the conversation and Hoover chimes in with suggestions. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Hoover explained, “They have that community” where “other people get them and know what they are going through.”
Tips for Families
Teaching a sibling how to cope with the disorder can be difficult, but it's important for parents to involve them as much as possible.
  1. Learn about autism.
    Make sure the sibling has a full understanding of the disorder. What will they go through and how can they help the family?
  2. Open communication.
    Talk to your children about a specific situation once it occurs. Why did it happen? How can they help?
  3. Spend alone time with them.
    For families with multiple children, it’s important to give each sibling special attention. Pick a day each month to do something with your children individually. See a movie. Go shopping.

    When a child has autism, the whole family has autism. Learn more about helping a sibling cope with autism. To find a sibling support group close to you, check with your school or local Autism Speaks chapter.
Also, explore strategies for communicating with someone on the spectrum [PDF].
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