Autism can have some adverse effects to the person on the spectrum, but what about the ways it impacts their family? If you have both a child or children on the spectrum and neurotypical children, the impacts can be especially apparent. In this post, we’ll discuss how autism affects neurotypical siblings, and how to navigate those effects.
In truth, there can be many negative impacts on the siblings of a child on the spectrum. This is especially true if the children are younger. Research shows that neurotypical siblings of children on the spectrum can experience depression, anxiety, and social challenges along with the child with autism.
One thing to note when considering the effects is that some of these shared symptoms can be a result of environmental or genetic factors, more so than directly correlated to the autism diagnosis itself. Either way, these issues can be exacerbated dependent on coping techniques, treatment, and environment.
Siblings of children with autism can be more likely to experience social and emotional challenges as they grow. They are not, however, more likely to show aggression or experience developmental delays. The findings instead indicate that siblings of children on the spectrum are much more likely to share the experience of autism’s related conditions and symptoms more so than the core features and developmental delays associated with the diagnosis.
How to Deal with the Effects
So, how can these effects be combatted while also providing the right care for the child on the spectrum? The best ways to tackle these effects might include:
- Communicating and explaining autism in a way the children can understand, while answering questions that come up along the way.
- Parenting to each child’s individual needs more so than placing everyone under the same expectations/circumstances.
- Seeking professional help or getting the neurotypical children involved in behavioral treatments and programs that work for them.
- Practicing holistic care and self care strategies for the whole family to work on anxiety and stress.
Success will look different for every family, and finding the right balance can be a difficult and time-consuming process. What’s most important is that everyone’s needs are met in the best ways for them, including your own. Don’t be afraid to use your resources and support systems in the community.
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