How Do Children Cope When One Sibling Has Autism? A Mother Shares Her Sons' Story

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 09, 04:00 am

There are plenty of studies and guides available for parents with a child with autism. There are not enough resources about how children cope when one sibling has special needs.

Mom Nicole Jankowski opened up about how her sons, born two years apart, are learning to deal with each other. Her kids Frankie and Dominic share a room together as children and one child has autism.

Jankowski said there were many nights when Frankie couldn't sleep well since Dominic, the older brother, was in his own world. He would listen to music loudly or play with the lights late at night.

He would also not communicate or have eye contact with Frankie. Jankowski revealed this fact bothered her before in light of her kids' relationship with each other. "Many studies illustrate how important sibling relationships are in determining who we become," Jankowski wrote via Stuff New Zealand.

Frankie was too young to understand what autism was but he eventually learned that dealing with Dominic meant using his favorite medium: music. The younger brother also learned to muster patience, acceptance and understanding that his sibling was different from him.

"Kids with siblings on the autism spectrum often put themselves last, even if that means sacrificing their needs for those of their sibling," Jankowski wrote. She often wondered if she's giving Frankie a fair life, given all the adjustments accorded to Dominic.

Kids with a brother or sister with autism do experience stress. They get frustrated, embarrassed, bullied or worried for their family, according to Autism Society.

Experts said children might have difficulty coping with a sibling with autism in their younger years. It is vital then for parents to guide and orient the child about special needs at an early age. It can be done through simple instructions, leading by example, praises and encouragement. When the child is older, regularly discussing autism and its limitations or effects will also help form a better understanding about his sibling with special needs.

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