August 18, 2016
For parents who have both children with special needs and those who do not, life is a juggling act. It may seem ridiculously hard to give the attention to your special needs child while simultaneously seeing to the needs of your other children. Having a child with autism and children without comes with unique challenges. Life is a constant balancing act.
How do you split yourself into enough parts to be fair to all especially given that these siblings are often dealing with the same struggles and feelings that you do as parents? They, too, feel a sense of loss, confusion, and frustration – all at a time before they’ve developed comparable coping skills. These future advocates, potential caretakers, and friends will establish the longest lasting relationship with your child on the spectrum, and therefore need guidance and support from the start. Here are just a few resources geared towards sibling support.
Autism Society of America’s Guide for Parents. Source: Autism Society of America (ASA) What it offers: A well-rounded look at specific issues that siblings deal with, including emotional issues, learning about autism, and tips for leading a healthy family life.
Parent Tips: Explaining Autism Using Everyday Examples. Source: Path finders for Autism, article by Shelly McLaughlin. What it offers: A reference sheet and framework for explaining some of the behaviors associated with autism; it may be especially useful for parents with children who might not understand why their sibling does ”weird” things.
Autism Speaks: Siblings Guide to Autism. Source: Autism Speaks. What it offers: A guide on how to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder to younger children that contains helpful questions and tips for children first learning about autism.
Sibling Support Project is the first national program dedicated to the life-long and ever-changing concerns of millions of brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and mental health concerns. This website hosts books, online support groups and workshops designed specifically with siblings in mind.