2011-11-08

Siblings Tool Kit from Autism Speaks

I posted before about the Autism Speaks Tool Kits, dental appointments, haircuts, transition, and grandparents. And today, siblings. The guide starts responsibly: if your other child is having "an unusually difficult time" adjusting, look for a professional. This guide is a suggestion to structure conversation between parents and their children who do not have autism, about their feelings about having a sibling who has autism. It is suggested for kids 6- to 12-years-old.

It briefly explains what autism is and that we don't know exactly what causes it, that a lot of people in the world have autism, and it is not contagious. It encourages kids to talk to their parents about their feelings, which could be that they feel embarrassed, that they don't know how to play,  that they get all the attention. It has little forms to be completed by the child, for example, Since your sibling was diagnosed with autism what’s different for you?, and forms to record questions to ask parents, things to remember when playing with sibling. It encourages kids to seek family members to talk to and suggests some siblings groups, with internet links.

It is very brief and worth a shot if you need some guidance to get started. But it did make me think of the risk that for some kids this might be the very first opportunity to let it all out, "it all" being difficult feelings that may not have been expressed, and the risk that the parent may not know how to manage the intensity. Or the parent being severely hurt and unable to immediately deal with the situation. So keep that idea of looking for professional help in mind. Or take a look at additional resources before starting with this little guide. The premise of the guide is that it is OK to have these feelings and speak up, so one needs to be ready to follow through accordingly.

Download here.