Our Autism Helpline talks to lots of families about supporting siblings of children with autism and Asperger syndrome.
The questions that parents and carers ask change depending on the age of their children. Here are some questions that parents of older children often ask us.
How can I stop siblings being bullied?
If your child is being bullied because they have a brother or sister with autism, make sure that their teachers know what is going on. Talk to teaching staff about raising awareness of autism in the school.
Our Autism Helpline can offer information, including lesson plans, to teachers.
Tel: 0808 800 4104 (open Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm and Friday 9am-3pm).
If the bullying or teasing is taking place outside of school, make sure that the parents of the children who are involved in the bullying know what it happening. If you feel that it's appropriate, you could invite the children and their parents to your home to raise awareness of the condition.
How can I encourage siblings to go on social outings with the whole family?
It's important that brothers and sisters don't feel left out, so encourage them to come along on outings. Suggest that they bring a friend along so that they can go off on their own if they want to, and meet up with the rest of the family later.
How can I encourage siblings to spend more time at home?
Some young people will prefer to spend time at friends' houses rather than at home. But you could invite siblings' friends to stay over: have a theme night so that it appears fun and different.
If your child with autism is at a respite scheme or staying with relatives, encourage their brother or sister to be at home; they can then enjoy quality time with you and be free with their personal belongings.
Always try to make sure that brothers' and sisters' personal belongings, which they value, are not interfered with. You might stick a visual aid for the child with autism on their brother's or sister's door to reinforce this, or store special items in a box that your child with autism doesn't have access to.
How can I stop siblings having negative thoughts and feelings about their brother or sister with autism?
It's common for brothers and sisters to feel guilty about any negative thoughts and feelings they may have about autism, or their sibling who has the condition. Encourage brothers and sisters to talk freely about their feelings. Suggest that they access networks set up specifically for the use of siblings or talk with a professional about their concerns.
You can find more information in the section of our website for siblings.