Supporting Healthy Sibling Relationships
January 31, 2019
“It feels like whenever my family and I are out in public, my autistic brother will have a full-blown meltdown. People always stare so I get really embarrassed, but I also worry about how angry he gets. What can I do about this?”
This is one of the many challenges siblings grapple with when they have a brother or sister with autism. In August 2014, OAR launched its Autism Siblings Support Initiative to address the issues that siblings commonly face. The three guidebooks that make up the initiative help siblings and parents alike to validate their experiences, process their complex emotions, better understand their responsibilities and family dynamic, and support one another in practical ways. Siblings are future advocates, potential caretakers, and lifelong friends who require support and attention as they grow into those roles.
For parents: “Brothers, Sisters, and Autism: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Siblings” outlines what mothers and fathers can do to support children who do not have an autism diagnosis. The topics range from dealing with perceived discrepancies fairly to facilitating a positive relationship between siblings. It can be read from start to finish or used as a reference tool to troubleshoot problems as they arise.
For teenage siblings: Written in a Q&A format, “Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens” addresses the challenges that teenage siblings might face as a result of having a brother or sister with autism. It also provides tips and advice on how to deal with such challenges in productive ways. The resource includes testimonials from teenage siblings and parents, which helps make it a relatable and authentic read.
For children: “Autism, My Sibling, and Me” is a colorful workbook specifically designed to engage young children. A host of cartoon characters accompany children as they learn about what autism means for their brother or sister. The resource also aims to guide young siblings through any autism-related questions and concerns they may have, offering fun ideas for activities that can help them deal with potentially stressful issues.
Any family that includes siblings will appreciate the information and support these resources provide. OAR is also happy to share them with clinical professionals, sibling support groups, school resource centers, and any other organizations that serve autism parents and siblings. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about OAR’s sibling initiative, or would like a hard copy of any of the sibling resources, please contact OAR at 703-243-3466 or email@example.com.