Sibling rivalry and jealousy is common in all families. But when it comes to dealing with siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), stresses can be far more complex.
Many siblings, especially those of children with ASD, feel that the focus is always on their brother or sister. Even the idea of a sibling coming for speech therapy may make the sibling not in therapy feel as if their brother or sister is more “special” than they are. After all, they get to go to appointments and play with toys!
Below are a few tips to help the jealous sibling be more understanding:
1. Give your child(ren) insight into their sibling’s world. Explain why their brother or sister acts differently than them, remembering to highlight all the things that they also have in common.
2. Create activities where the sibling(s) can “lead” to make them feel important. Encourage their brother/sister to join in or sit with them and read them a book.
3. Designate 5-10 minutes of every day to spend exclusively with each child. Talk about their day, and provide examples of how they have helped or guided their sibling.
Children that have siblings with ASD are exposed to many complicated issues that most people have never come into contact with, and as a result may have many difficult questions they want to ask. Assist them through the journey. Let them know that their sibling looks up to them, regardless of the age difference, and allow them take an active role in their sibling’s development.
“All About My Brother” by Sarah Peralta
“Sometimes my Brother: Helping Kids Understand Autism Through A Sibling’s Eyes” by Angie Healy
Written by: Ashleigh Wishen, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.