Practical tips for parents to help siblings cope with the behaviors of a child with Aspergers

By Dave Angel

Siblings of children with Asperger's Syndrome are suffering

Having a child with any type of developmental disability can be very stressful for the parents and the siblings of that child. This may be seen to be even more so at times for children with (physically) hidden syndromes like Asperger's Syndrome.

Children with physical disabilities have a more visible and obvious disability. Whereas children on the autistic spectrum tend to look exactly like other children but can behave very differently.

For siblings this behavior can be difficult to understand even when they are aware of their sibling's ASD. Many siblings can think of their ASD sibling as simply naughty or rude – particularly if they are quite young and unable to fully understand the issues involved.

Siblings may often feel embarrassed around peers, frustrated by not having the type of relationship with their sibling that they wanted or expected, and/or angry that the child with Asperger's Syndrome requires so much of the parents' time. This can often mean the child not wanting to ask friends over to play, as they fear their sibling may embarrass them.

It is hard enough for parents of the child with Asperger's to understand why their child has this syndrome, much less why they behave the way they do.

Teach siblings about Asperger's Syndrome to the extent that they are able to understand. Let them know that it is okay to be frustrated with their sibling who is affected, but it won't help their relationship.

Let siblings know what that child needs, again to the extent that they can understand and provide as normal of an environment as possible. Try to make this as concrete as possible with real life examples of what you mean that they can follow and relate to.

Obviously some family dynamics can make this tricky - but try to make some special parent-child time with the non-Asperger's sibling at least weekly.

In order to do this you may need to look to your family, friends or local social services to offer the child with Asperger's somewhere to go for some respite. Whilst you can then do some activity with their sibling.

This may mean staying in and watching a video or just chilling out in peace. Or it could involve a set activity like swimming, the cinema, walking, shopping etc. Whatever it is try to make it child-focussed so that your child gets to determine what you do (within reason!)

It is often tempting to coddle the child with developmental disabilities, like Asperger's Syndrome, and expect the other children to do so as well. But, the child with Asperger's Syndrome will benefit and learn social skills from their siblings as well, and they should be entitled to a reasonable amount of sibling rivalry as well as any other child.

You don't want to deny the child with Asperger's the typical childhood, which includes fighting over toys and television shows. These formative sibling relationships and experiences have a major effect on children as they grow up (regardless of Asperger's).

So to summarize, siblings need to know enough about their brother or sister's issues to give them an understanding at their level. They also need to know that it is OK to feel some negative emotions at times toward their sibling, and where ever possible they need a little "special" time with you on their own.

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I am here to empower parents and assist them in starting to enjoy their amazing children. Our children are individuals before they are their label.

I have over thirteen years experience with ASD / Aspergers / Autism, both as a mother and as a consultant to parents, as well as holding the academic qualifications as 'Post Grad Cert in Advanced Disabilities Studies'. I am currently working on my Masters Degree In Human Services.

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Now you have a chance to provide your other children with that special time that they so desperately need with you.

I wish, more than some might ever know, that this had been available when our daughter was younger (she's 18 now) because she went through so much with our son and she, and we, missed out on so much together because of his special needs.

This is time that I can NEVER get back and it breaks my heart.

Don't let this happen to you and your children, the siblings of your child(ren) with special needs.

There's a program that provides respite care, they care for your child(ren) with special needs which gives you the perfect opportunity to spend time with your other child(ren).

Go ahead and check it out. It doesn't hurt to look and you may find that you gain something you didn't realize you were missing with your non-special-needs child(ren).

Remember, it's special time lost that you can never regain. Don't let that happen. I did.

My daughter will never know those special times we missed, and I will always regret missing the lost time with her and making her miss those special times in her early years that every child deserves.

Even now, she's 19 years old, and I still see the hurt in her eyes when I have to put my son first. Some might say, oh she's 19 she should know better, but she's been on the back burner all her life. You can see in her eyes that the hurt is there and it runs deep.

Wonderful Autism Apps / Applications ... and ... some of my favorite books and other goodies

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Books that I'm currently reading

I'm so tickled that authors have been contacting me and asking me to review their new books for them!

For as much time as I spend researching Asperger's Syndrome this website should have thousands of pages but because my son has Asperger's Syndrome I find that the things I want to work on very often are not the things that I have to work on so I'm still not able to spend as much time on it as I'd like to.

As he heads into adulthood (he turned 18 on Dec 13 and yes I need to update some things at my website such as my home page that says he's 17) I'm finding that I have even less time on my hands as I spend more time trying to master the puzzle of how to help him transition into "life after high school".

That's where Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide To Help Your Child Thrive In The Real World comes in. It's a guide to help your kids after high school. You'll find parts of the book will be applicable and some won't depending on your child's current age. Although the title implies "Autism after high school" there is still quite a bit in there about what to do before your child hits "real life". But overall a helpful book.

Please contact me if you'd like to send a copy of your book to me for review. I would absolutely love it!

Fiction, Non-fiction, Auto-Biographies, Instructional books, etc. I'm interested in them all. :) And if you autograph it that would be SUPER cool! ;)