Our Autism Helpline talks to lots of families about supporting brothers and sisters 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 adult children often ask us.
My child is worried about future needs of his sibling with autism. How can I help?
Adult siblings are often concerned about the future care needs of their brother or sister with autism. Siblings worry about who will care for their brother or sister when their parents are no longer able to be the prime carers.
It could be useful to talk through the concerns the sibling has, and then arrange a family meeting. Ask one person to be chairperson and note-taker. Make sure that everyone gets to have their say about what they feel would be the best care package for the family member with autism - including the person with autism themselves, if they are able to contribute. Try to choose the best option available to the sibling; document this choice and keep it in a safe place. When the time comes to make changes to the care plan of the person with autism, you'll know that everyone has had their say. This may help to make the situation less stressful.
My child feels responsible for the care of their sibling with autism. What support can I offer them?
Try to share caring work evenly among family members. If the adult sibling is the only family member able to provide care, they can find out about getting support from their local social services department.
Our nation specific information sheets on Community care for adults may be helpful and you can request a copy from our Autism Helpline. Tel: 0808 800 4104 (open Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm).
The book 'Caring for a Child with Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents' may also be useful. You can find it by browsing in the relevant section in our Amazon shop.
My child is concerned about their sibling moving into a residential service. How can I ease their concerns?
Try to remember that your child with autism is soon to be an adult, or is already an adult, so needs to be living in a more independent environment. Living in a residential service can promote independent living skills, and also offer a new support network for adult brothers and sisters. Most residential services welcome regular family visits from parents, carers and siblings.
My sibling has autism. I now want to start a family - where can I seek advice?
Adult brothers and sisters could arrange an appointment with their GP to ask for a referral to a genetic counsellor, who will be able to talk through any concerns. Read more about the causes of autism.