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The Impact of Autism on Siblings

Strengthening the relationship between siblings when one has autism can be a challenge. Consider these starter ideas.
 

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Connect with interests. Children with autism often have specific interests. Whether your autistic child’s special knowledge is in music, sports, or a game, encourage him to share his knowledge with siblings.

Validate feelings. Autism can bring out conflicted feelings in your other children. Let them know it’s okay to feel that way. Sibling support groups can also help. Find one at autismspeaks.org.

Start traditions. All children draw comfort from knowing what to expect. Plan time each week for a family night, pick a theme, and allow your child with autism to choose the game or movie in advance. This will relieve some of the stress your children might feel in a social situation and help them participate more freely in the family night fun.

Beware of jealousy. Many times one child requires more attention than another; this is often true with autism. Set aside time for a one-on-one date with each of your children so everyone feels special.

Become advocates. Encourage your other children to learn more about autism outside of their own family experiences. 

Source: Lisa Goring, vice president of family services for Autism Speaks

Nicole Falcone is a health writer from Huntington, NY.

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