Nurturing Siblings of Children with Autism

Nov 07, 2023By Autism Dads Social Club


"Meet the Peetes" is a reality television series based on the lives of the family of Holly (a television actress and talk show host) and Rodney Peete (a former NFL quarterback). My wife and I were interested in the show because their son, RJ, is autistic. I appreciated seeing how the entire family supported RJ.

As dads, we know that having a child with autism can be both challenging and rewarding. It is important to empathize with our children who are siblings of loved ones with special needs. It can be difficult for siblings to navigate the unique needs and behaviors of their brother or sister with autism.  As parents, we can help nurture and support them in being empathetic, patient, and understanding. In this blog post, we will discuss some ways to support siblings of children with autism.

1. Support Individual Interests

Siblings of children with autism may sometimes feel overshadowed by their sibling's needs. It's important to encourage and support their individual interests and activities. Help them find activities that they enjoy and give them opportunities to pursue their passions. Spend quality time with them and support their interests.

2. Foster a Supportive Environment

Create a supportive and inclusive environment at home. Encourage siblings to work together and support each other. Celebrate their achievements and help them understand that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

siblings playing

3. Provide Respite and Self-Care

It's essential for siblings of children with autism to have time for themselves. Provide opportunities for respite, whether it's through spending time with friends, engaging in hobbies, or simply having quiet time alone. Encourage self-care activities and teach them the importance of taking care of their own well-being.

4. Connect with Support Groups

Support groups can be a valuable resource for siblings of children with autism. These groups provide a space for siblings to connect with others who may be experiencing similar challenges and emotions. They can share their experiences, seek advice, and find support from people who understand their unique situation. We welcome families in our community to attend our Autism Dads Social Club Family Socials. We hope that the entire family-dads, moms, and siblings--can experience support and know that they are not alone. Besides our organization, there are a variety of local and national groups that families engage including but not limited to Autism Speaks, the Autism Society of Texas (or other states), and Hope for Three in Fort Bend County.

5. Facilitate Sibling Bonding

While there may be challenges, it's important to foster a strong bond between siblings. Encourage them to spend quality time together, engage in shared activities, and create positive memories. Siblings can learn from each other and develop a unique understanding and connection. Neurotypical siblings can provide their autistic sibling with unconditional love and support. 

siblings bonding

I have been honored to have the opportunity to engage numerous families with autistic loved ones and have met some amazing siblings of autistic individuals. From my observation, they are often natural advocates for their autistic brother or sister. Their growing up with a special needs family member may help them blossom into super human beings with deep empathy and compassion as well as a profound respect and acceptance of human difference.