Having an autistic sibling can be a positive experience as they can share their unique qualities and outlook on life with you. It can help you to become a more tolerant and accepting person. However, it can be quite stressful at times.

Here we look at some of the potential concerns you may have about having an autistic sibling, whether you’re an adult, teenager or child.

We also have information for parents of younger children who have an autistic sibling.

Adult siblings of an autistic person

You might be concerned about the future care needs of your autistic brother or sister, particularly when your parents are no longer able to be their prime carers.

It may be useful to meet as a family to talk about ideal care options for your autistic sibling in the future. Your sibling should be included in this if possible, using whatever means of communication that will give them the opportunity to express their views.

Consider if they are able to live independently or what community care option would be best for them? Would they prefer to live in residential care or supported living?

You may want to help your sibling find a job, manage their money, chose a college or university placement or have a better understanding of how they are able to advocate for themselves. It’s particularly important to think about long term planning.

Read about the possible causes of autism.

Teenage and child siblings of an autistic person

You may feel that your autistic brother or sister doesn’t get told off as often as you do and that your parents give them more attention. As a sibling this may make you feel angry, sad, jealous, frustrated and/or confused. These are all natural reactions. You could try watching our What is autism? video, understanding why your sibling acts the way that they do may help.

Bridget shares her experience of having a sister on the autistic spectrum:

Even now I still find it hard to deal with. I'm a lot more patient with my sister than I used to be, and I'm trying to be a better sibling to her. I sometimes slip and get into a bad mood - but hey, I can't be perfect all the time. I'm still getting used to the whole concept of autism, and I don't really understand all about it. 

Talk to an adult if you’re being bullied because you have an autistic sibling. You could ask a teacher or pastoral support worker if they can teach autism awareness in school.

It’s important to remember that your parent/s don’t love you any less than your autistic sibling. It could be that you’re able to be more independent than they are and so your parent/s feel they are able to trust you to do certain things alone. Although it may be difficult, try to speak to your parent/s to tell them how you feel, you may feel more comfortable to do this by text or email. They may be able to arrange some time when it can just be you and them.

If you can’t talk to your parent/s, then try to talk to an adult in school, friend or a helpline.

Talking to others who have autistic siblings may also help. There are some groups that your family can ask for support and who may be able to give you the chance to meet others in a similar situation.  They are:

• some National Autistic Society branches and groups
• Barnardo's
• Kids
• Sibs
• Contact

Watch other siblings talk about their experiences of having an autistic brother or sister.

Parents of younger children who have an autistic sibling

It can be difficult for younger children to understand autism and what being autistic may mean for their sibling. There are some pre-school resources that may help: 

Read more about supporting siblings.

Further help from our charity

Autism helpline
Autism Services Directory
Family support
Getting older
Online community

Useful reading

My family is different
My brother is different
My sister is different
Everybody is Different
Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens
Autism my sibling and me
Brothers, Sisters, and Autism: A Parent’s Guide

Last updated: 15 January 2018.