A Reminder to Parents Raising a Child With an Autism Sibling

One obstacle many parents face when raising a child with special needs is how to divide their attention amongst siblings. One Mommy Warrior speaks up about the lesson she learned from her daughter, who is an autism sibling.

“I want to take a moment to talk about siblings. Many of us have other children. We love them dearly and want them to succeed just as much as their sibling(s) on the autism spectrum.

I have a 5-year-old neurotypical daughter. She is my world. Just like my ASD 8-year-old son is. But I will admit that my son takes up most of my time.

He requires more attention and more supervision than his sister. I have always worried that I don’t do enough for my daughter. I have felt guilty and emotional at times. I worried that she would grow up and resent her brother, her father, or me.

This was how I felt most of the time until I went to an autism conference that had a autism sibling panel. Eight siblings of ASD kiddos spoke on many unanswered questions. ALL of them loved their ASD sibling so much and did not feel any resentment towards them or their parents.

They all understood that their brother or sister had special needs and accommodations. Their autism sibling made them better people and were so grateful for them.

When asked what they would like their parents to know, one said, “Don’t be so hard on yourselves, we are fine.” She was 15.

A 9-year-old said, “Just have one day set aside just for me where we can do something just me and you.”

A 13-year-old boy said, “My brother is my best friend and I will always protect him, even when you are old.”

Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. Since then, I have been easier on myself. I have made sure I spend special moments just me and my daughter. We have dates, go shopping, have a special bedtime routine, and I am always telling her she is a great sister, daughter, and person.

I always tell her she makes me so happy and proud. She is only 5, but she has so much empathy and strength. She doesn’t know her brother has autism, but knows that he is different. She is his cheerleader and encourages him to try different things.

So, I hope all of you can take something from this. Please don’t be hard on yourselves but always remain mindful of your children. They see how hard you work and they learn from you. It’s okay for them to see you cry, laugh, and be frustrated.

Just always explain it to them when the moment is right. They will appreciate it and it will help them grow. 

- Jackie

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