Help Your Child Cope with Their Asperger Sibling

I have written a lot about the impact of Asperger Syndrome (AS) on a marriage – particularly from the perspective of the spouse of someone with Asperger’s. It’s very clear that the spouse will be affected and self-care is vital. (See previous blog – Self Care Vital When You Live With A Partner With Asperger Syndrome.) You may be wondering if the same principle applies when it comes to a child with an Asperger sibling. The answer is YES!

It can be especially challenging for a child to deal with their AS sibling. With the AS child’s limited social interactions, lack of emotional reciprocity, and preoccupation with him or herself or a particular task, can make playing with siblings extremely difficult. This could lead the non AS child to feel confused and frustrated . . . even depressed. As always though, there are practical steps that parents can take to help both children.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Spend one-on-one time with your child. The AS child can suck a lot of your time and energy possibly making the other child feel neglected. Make sure you give them special time and attention. This is beneficial for both parent and child. Also, make sure that NT child has a well-rounded group of playmates. It is important that they have balance when it comes to fun and recreation.

2. Educate yourself and your child about Asperger Syndrome. This will help you both understand where the Asperger child is coming from. It will also help the NT child to develop compassion for their AS sibling rather than grow resentful. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, was written to assist the spouse of someone with Asperger’s, but I also recommend it for parents with Asperger children. I have received positive feedback from parents who have read it and found principles that apply also to dealing with their children. (See previous blog – Unexpected Feedback on My New Book – Going Over the Edge?) Another good resource is The Parenting Aspergers Blog – http://parentingaspergers.com/blog/.

3. Counseling from a mental health care professional. There is nothing negative about taking your child to receive extra assistance to help them cope with their sibling. In psychotherapy they can learn specific tools, build self confidence, and also have a safe environment to share their thoughts and feelings. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, feel free to contact my office for more information.

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