Ten Ways to Support Siblings of Children with Autism in Mississauga

Growing up with a sibling who has autism in Mississauga can be both a unique and rewarding experience. Brothers and sisters play a key role in the support network for children with autism, and it’s essential to ensure that they receive the attention and support they deserve as well.

Our Mississauga autism clinic offers ten ways to support the siblings of children with autism, fostering understanding, empathy, and strong family connections.

1. Educate The Siblings About Autism
There are plenty of online resources available like Question and Answer segments from experts in the field. Or you can provide age-appropriate apps and websites for information about autism. Understanding the condition helps siblings work with their brother or sister’s behaviours and build empathy for their unique experiences.

2. Foster Independence
Let them try to do things that they enjoy on their own. Encourage a sense of independence for the brother or sister by providing opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and hobbies. This allows them to develop their own identity beyond the role of a sibling to someone with autism.

3. Look Into Respite Support

The siblings will need a break from things as well. Arrange for respite care to give siblings a chance to breathe. Caring for a child with autism can be demanding, and providing moments of respite allows siblings to recharge and focus on their own well-being.

4. Promote Open Communication
Encourage open conversations about autism within the family. Providing siblings with age-appropriate information helps them understand their brother or sister’s unique needs and strengths, fostering a sense of unity.

5. Try To Create Bonding Moments

Carve out quality time for siblings to have a shared experience. Whether engaging in mutual interests, like a board game or nature walk, or creating special activities like building blanket forts or baking, these moments help strengthen the sibling relationship outside the context of autism-related challenges.

6. Validate Their Feelings

Their voice is important too. Recognize and validate the feelings of siblings. It’s natural for them to experience a range of emotions, from love and pride to frustration or confusion. Acknowledging their feelings creates a supportive environment.

7. Look Into Sibling Support Groups
These brothers and sisters are not alone. Connect siblings of neurodivergent children with support groups or programs where they can share experiences with others in the same boat. These groups provide a sense of normalcy, community, and understanding.

8. Celebrate Achievements Together
Whether it’s a good mark on a math test, or a goal in practice—celebrate the little victories—no matter how big or small, as a family unit. Recognizing and acknowledging each sibling’s accomplishments contributes to a positive and supportive family dynamic.

9. Include Them in the Care Plan
Get the siblings involved in some of the bigger picture decisions. Allow the brothers and sisters to be involved  in discussions about their sibling’s care plan. Including them in the decision-making process fosters a sense of responsibility and ensures their perspectives are taken seriously. 

10. Seek Professional Guidance if Needed
There’s no harm in asking for outside help. If the siblings face challenges coping with their unique family situation, consider seeking professional guidance. Child psychologists or family therapists can provide valuable support and coping strategies.

Knowing how to support the brothers and sisters of children with autism is integral to creating a harmonious and understanding family environment. Monarch House’s autism clinic in Mississauga encourages open communication, providing educational resources, and acknowledging the unique needs of each family member. This way one can ensure that siblings grow up with a strong sense of connection, empathy, and resilience.