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Don't Forget About the Siblings!

04/1/2014

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Siblings of people with autism experience joys and woes of being and having a sibling, just as anyone does.  Siblings of people with autism also face many different situations and emotions that parents, teachers, friends and other support people should be aware of.  In a Time Magazine article called ‘Autistic Kids: The Sibling Problem’, the author, Amy Lennard Goehner (a parent of a child with autism) wrote “The typically developing’ siblings of autistic children are, in fact, the furthest thing from typical.  Often they are wiser and more mature than their age would suggest.  And they have to be, given the myriad challenges they face: parental responsibility; a feeling of isolation from the rest of the family; confusion, fear, anger and embarrassment about their autistic sibling.  And on top of all of it, guilt for having these feelings.”   Thankfully, there are many resources available to help involved support people .   Among the recommendations for siblings of children with autism are early education about autism and keeping the conversation open, finding support groups or helping your child to connect with other children who have siblings with autism and creating special time to spend with just them.  Below are sites and resources for this information as well as where additional ideas and supports can be found. http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/events/sensory-friendly-films/  AMC moving theaters offer ‘Sensory Friendly Films’ at 10:00am on Saturdays.  Tickets cost between $4 and $6 depending on location.    Go to the website for more information and to find a theater near you! http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/family-support-tool-kits#siblings  Autism Speaks website has a section which celebrates and understands the joys and sorrows of loving a person with autism.  Entering your name and zip code will give you access to their tool kits for explaining autism to friends, grandparents and siblings.  The tools can be modified depending on the need of your audience.  http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/books#siblings This is an extensive book list which references books which can be used to explain autism as well as the feelings that come along with being a sibling of a person with autism.  www.siblingsupport.org The Sibling Support Project is a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of siblings of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health needs.  ‘Sibshops’ are workshops and support groups existing in many locations to include the following New Hampshire towns; Lebanon, Nashua, Laconia, Concord.  http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1698128,00.html  This is the link to the article in Time magazine.