Information and support for siblings

When one child has additional needs, whatever these are in nature, it impacts on all family members. Your typically developing child/ren may experience a range of thoughts and feelings towards their brother/sister with autism, and it’s important that their feelings are addressed, validated and explored.

The following were produced to guide parents in supporting their typically developing children:

Ambitious About Autism’s “Supporting Siblings"

The Organization for Autism Research’s “Brothers, Sisters and Autism: A Parent’s Guide”

Explaining autism to your typically developing children

The following two sections are lists of resources (both online and books) that you can use to explain autism to your typically developing children. One section is applicable to younger children (i.e. those aged 4-9 years old), and the other is applicable to older children (i.e. those aged 10+ years).

When explaining autism to your typically developing child (whatever their age), a good video to start with is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwRrVw-CRo&t=12sm. This video was a finalist in the professional category of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Uncut film and media awards, and aims to help people get a greater understanding of autism.

For younger children

Pablo

Pablo is a Cbeebies character who uses his magic crayons to turn his life challenges into fantastic adventures and his feelings into colourful characters with a voice. With a little help from children, families and voice actors involved in Pablo, the team at Pablo have collected some ideas for starting a conversation about autism with your child.

Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children

Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a nationwide initiative aimed at communities with children ages 2 to 5. Developed with input from parents, people who serve the autism community, and people with autism, See Amazing in All Children offers families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections and support from family, friends, and community.

Can I tell you about Autism? A guide for friends, family and professionals, by Jude Welton

Meet Tom - a young boy with autism. Tom invites readers to learn about autism from his perspective, helping them to understand what it is and explaining the challenges he faces with issues such as social communication, sensory overload and changes in his routine. Tom tells readers about all the ways he can be helped and supported by those around him. The book is aimed at children aged 7 and upwards.

I See Things Differently : A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas

A picture book explaining what autism is and how it affects someone who has it. Suitable for children aged 4 to 7 years old.

The Children’s Guide To Autism by Fiona H Reeves

The Children's Guide to Autism is a positive, short, fact based description of what Autism can be like and is aimed at younger children (roughly 6 - 9 years). It's a great way to start talking to your child about autism. The author wrote the book to explain Autism to her son after his diagnosis.

My family is different: a workbook for children with a brother or sister on the autism spectrum. By Carolyn Brock for the National Autistic Society

Aimed at young children aged five to eight, this colourful workbook is full of activities and games to help siblings understand their autistic brother or sister. It aims to encourage family members to talk honestly about their feelings and the impact that autism has on their lives, as well as celebrate difference and encourage brothers and sisters to help each other.

The Organization for Autism Research’s “Autism, My Sibling and Me”

This is a free downloadable workbook for children between the ages of 5 and 10. A host of colourful cartoon characters accompany these siblings as they learn about what autism means for their brother or sister – and handle potentially stressful issues. Through fun activities and supportive content, this resource also helps children work through many of the autism-related questions they may have.

Support groups for younger siblings

Siblings First (Families in Focus)

For siblings who are teenagers

Ambitious about Autism

This organisation has put together some tips for brothers and sisters.

National Autistic Society’s “Having An Autistic Sibling”

The NAS has a section of its website dedicated to providing information for siblings of varying ages. There is a section for teenage siblings of children with autism.

The Organization for Autism Research’s “Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens”

A handbook for teenage (and even pre-teen) siblings that offers guidance on how to productively address feelings and challenges that may arise as an autism sibling. The resource covers a variety of topics; from explaining autism to friends and peers, to coping with a family dynamic that’s different from what friends may experience. It also features testimonials from other teenage and young adult siblings who have “been there, done that.”

Rules by Cynthia Lord

A book about 12-year-old Catherine, who has a brother with autism. The book can be purchased by clicking on the link.

Support groups for siblings who are teenagers

Young Sibs

YoungSibs is for children and young people who have a brother or sister who is disabled, has special educational needs or a serious long-term condition. It is for siblings in the UK who are under 18 years of age. Siblings are also able to share their feelings and experiences online via YoungSibs chat, or by contacting a member of the YoungSibs team.