Having a child with autism can change family dynamics dramatically, and this often has the biggest impact on their siblings. But while communication and socialization difficulties can make it harder for siblings to bond, the relationship can be extremely positive and rewarding once they overcome the initial challenges.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to help them along:
1. Talk about what autism is
Siblings who don’t have autism first need to understand their sibling’s diagnosis. Once your child understands what their sibling is going through, you can really start encouraging them to foster a meaningful relationship with their sibling that will last a lifetime.
How much they understand will of course, depend on their age, but it’s important to start explaining as soon as they start to notice that their brother or sister is behaving a little differently.
2. Make time for fun together
Playing is a great way for your children to spend time together. It’s easy, fun and if you find the right activities, they’ll want to do them over and over again. This increases the quality and quantity of their interactions with each other and solidifies their bond.
3. Share your attention
Caring for a child with autism can take up the majority of a parent’s time, so it’s important to make sure their sibling feels that they’re loved and is just as important.
This means being sensitive to their needs and understanding that there may be some occasions where you may need to make them the focus. For example, if your child is prone to tantrums in public and their sibling is performing in a music recital, it might be better if they stay at home. This prevents siblings from building up resentment towards your child.
4. Teach them to help one another
Having your child mentor a younger sibling with autism is a great way to promote nurturing and love between the two. Helping their sibling with simple, daily tasks like how to wash their hands or put on socks will make the older child feel valuable, and your younger child will learn in the process.
But it’s not just a one way street: children with autism can teach their brothers and sisters a lot too, like patience, understanding and how to see the world in a different way.
Article Originally Published here: http://thinkinc.me/blog-post/helping-your-child-bond-with-their-siblings/