Forming a relationship with a sibling who is affected by autism does not always come easy. Due to the nature of autism, it is not unusual for a typical child to have some difficulty relating with an autistic sibling especially when both the typical child and the autistic child are still young and still unable to completely understand what autism is.
From a typical child’s perspective, it can sometimes be very discouraging when his autistic brother or sister ignores him as he tries to play with him/her. When they do play, it can get pretty frustrating for the typical child when his autistic brother or sister does not play by the rules or does not understand the concept of taking turns. It can also get pretty scary for the typical child when his brother or sister suddenly ends the play by throwing a tantrum. With all these, it is not surprising for the typical child to feel discouraged and to distance himself from his sibling.
Thankfully, through proper guidance, you can help your typical child get past this hurdle. The first thing you need to do is to explain to your typical child why his brother or sister is different and special. Do not be afraid to introduce him to the concept of autism. It is never too early to start and you can never do it often enough.
One thing you need to remember though is to always use words that he will understand. Keep it simple and do not introduce him to concepts which will only confuse him. You need to explain it to him in words that is appropriate for his age level. For example, if your typical child is three years old, a simple explanation that his brother or sister cannot talk is often times enough.
You can also let him know what his brother or sister likes and does not like. If your autistic child does not like to be touched, you need to let your typical child know about this. This way, your typical child knows what to expect and can avoid doing things that could potentially cause some conflict between the two of them.
As your typical child gets older, you can provide him more information about autism so he can continuously develop a better understanding of what autism is and in the process, grow to understand his brother or sister better.