You may pick up from an early age that your brother or sister is different. You may also notice other people's reactions, especially your parents' and grandparents', to your sibling.

Having a brother or sister who is on the autism spectrum may make you feel many different ways including:

  • angry
  • sad
  • jealous
  • frustrated
  • confused.

This may be because you feel that your brother or sister:

  • does not get told off when they seem to be being naughty
  • does not seem to care about how you are feeling
  • receives more attention from your parents than you get.

Your brother or sister is not doing these things on purpose to try and hurt you. Your parents may act differently towards them because they may need more help with the things that you can do without any help. For example, they may not be able to get up, get dressed and get ready for school in the morning without a lot of help and persuasion from your mum or dad. This does not mean that your parents love you any less or that you are not as important to them.

Tell your parents how you feel

It may not be easy for you to tell your parents how you feel and you may be afraid of asking questions in case you upset them. However, the important thing is to tell them your feelings. Talking with other members of your family is important, as it lets them know how you are feeling (they cannot read your mind) and it lets them answer any questions you might have or solve any problems you might be facing.

Some facts about autism

You may not really know what the word 'autism' means and this will make it harder for you to understand your brother or sister. By learning what autism means, it will make it easier for you to understand the way they behave, how to act with them and even how to stick up for them.

Autism is a disability. It is not an illness or disease and it does not go away. People are autistic for all of their lives. With the right help and understanding, your brother or sister can live a long and happy life.

Autistic people may find it hard to:

  • meet people and make friends
  • say what they need
  • say how they feel
  • understand how other people think or feel
  • understand jokes or ideas that are not clear or that may mean more than one thing.

Some autistic people may find other things hard like:

  • some smells, sounds or colours
  • bright lights
  • people touching them.

Other autistic people may like these things.

Reasons why your brother or sister behaves the way that they do

  • They may not show an interest in playing with you or they may completely ignore you because they don't always understand what you are saying and can get confused.
  • They may seem to have little or no respect for your belongings (such as your pictures, toys or clothes) and this is because they may not understand that what they are doing is upsetting to you. You may need to show them how to use your toys.
  • When your brother or sister does not get into as much trouble as you would for being naughty (such as if they kick someone), it is because they may not realise they have done something wrong.

What can I do to help my brother or sister?

  • When your brother or sister needs time alone to be by themselves, give them some space.
  • Try to be calm and patient with them even when they do something which may hurt your feelings.
  • Speak slowly and clearly when you are talking to them (so they can understand what you are saying).

Read more about how to talk to your sibling.