We don’t mean to, but we don’t often speak of autistic children’s siblings. We don’t see them as having challenges or issues, yet for many just being a child and going through life normally means that they will need support. Now add to this that their sibling is receiving a lot of attention, extra support (they might see this as added attention) and they might believe that their needs are being forgotten or even invisible.
There are a few things we can do to ensure our children (all of them) are feeling heard, seen and their needs are respected.
Special mom/dad time
It would make a positive difference if you include a daily ritual of special mom/dad time. Where your attention is on your other child or children. Ask them to choose their favourite activity or topic and solely focus on this (and them). It can be a short time as attention is such a positive reflection of pure love that the only requirement is consistency.
Special sibling time
Another great activity that can be included weekly is to carve some sibling time and create an “I love my brother or sister because…” book. You can include strengths from one another weekly and this brag book can grow into a wonderful memoir of memories and admiration that can always be brought out as a reminder of why families love each other.
Understanding special needs
Depending on how old your child is, you can introduce the topic of why their brother or sister needs a bit of extra support. This can also be a great way to teach your child how to advocate for their sibling in a way that makes them feel empowered too.
What do you feel has helped your child or if you are a sibling of someone with specific needs - please comment below!