Autism Sibling Support Groups Manchester NH

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12 important needs of siblings and tips to address these needs

12 important needs of siblings and tips to address these needs


1. SIBLINGS NEED COMMUNICATION THAT IS OPEN, HONEST, DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE, AND ONGOING. Parents may need to deal with their own thoughts and feelings before they can effectively share information with siblings. Children may show their stress through their withdrawal or through inappropriate behaviors. Siblings may be reluctant to ask questions due to not knowing what to ask or out of fear of hurting the parent. While doing research on siblings, Sandra Harris found that developmentally appropriate information can buffer the negative effects of a potentially stressful event (Harris, 1994).

2. SIBLINGS NEED DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE AND ONGOING INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR SIBLINGS’ ASD. Anxiety is most frequently the result of lack of information. Without information about a siblings’ disability, younger children may worry about “catching” the disability and/or whether they caused it. The young child will only be able to understand specific traits that they can see,
like the fact that the sibling does not talk or likes to line up their toys.

3. SIBLINGS NEED PARENTAL ATTENTION THAT IS CONSISTENT, INDIVIDUALIZED, AND CELEBRATES THEIR UNIQUENESS. Many families make a major effort to praise and reward the child with the disability for each step of progress. This same effort should be considered for the siblings. Self-esteem is tied to this positive recognition by parents. Remember to celebrate everyone’s achievements as special.

4. SIBLINGS NEED TIME WITH A PARENT THAT IS SPECIFICALLY FOR THEM. SCHEDULE SPECIAL TIME WITH THE SIBLING ON A REGULAR BASIS. Time with the sibling can be done in various ways such as a 10 minute activity before bed or a longer period several times a week. The important thing is to schedule specific c “alone” time with a parent that siblings can count on.

5. SIBLINGS NEED TO LEARN INTERACTION SKILLS WITH THEIR BROTHER OR SISTER WITH ASD. Sandra Harris & Beth Glasberg (2003) offer guidelines for teaching siblings play skills to interact successfully with their brother or sister with ASD. Go slow and praise the sibling. Toys and activities should be age appropriate, hold both children’s interest and require interaction. Teach siblings to give instructions as well as prompts and praise to their brother or sister (Harris & Glasberg, 2003).

6. SIBLINGS NEED CHOICES ABOUT HOW INVOLVED THEY ARE WITH THEIR BROTHER OR SISTER. Be reasonable in your expectations of siblings. Most siblings are given some responsibility for their brother or sister with a disability. Show siblings you respect their need for private time and space.

7.SIBLINGS NEED TO FEEL THAT THEY AND THEIR BELONGINGS ARE SAFE FROM THEIR BROTHER OR SISTER WITH AUTISM. Some children with ASD can be destructive and hard to redirect. They can also be quick to push, bite, or engage in other challenging behaviors with the sibling as a target. Siblings must be taugh...

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