Developing a loving bond with one’s brother or sister becomes more complicated when they are diagnosed with autism. If a sibling cannot grasp what autism is, they will not know how to react when their brother or sister acts out. A sibling of a child with autism will react according to a few different factors, such as if the child with autism is older or younger, what examples the parents are setting for the children, and where the child with autism falls on the autism spectrum.
Studies from the University of Washington, in 2007, expanded on what these difficulties could lead to. They found that in some families, siblings to children with autism may draw from a smaller vocabulary or smile less at people they encounter throughout their day. Explaining to a child how large the autism spectrum is can be hard. What autism is in one family can be radically different in another.
Siblings may need to fight for attention from their parents, and deal with more tantrums than the average family; but if they keep an open mind, they can develop a healthy relationship with their brother or sister with autism.
Cathy Groschan, who works with the Kennedy Krieger Center for Autism and Related Disorders, says that, “if children view their parents and their peers as responding positively to their sibling’s disability, and if they have good factual understanding of the disability, they tend to have positive relationships and a positive outcome.”
Many children who have a healthy relationship with their sibling who has autism go on to work within the autism field, dealing with areas from research to awareness.