For the siblings
"My brother or sister is different."
So you may have been told by your parents, grandparents or other family members that your brother/ sister is having a disorder called "autism". And while you do not yet understand what it is and how it may affect your sibling, you may feel angry, sad, confused or even jealous of him/her. This perhaps results from the fact that your brother or sister often ignore your feelings and emotions, or that he/ she doesn't get told off when being naughty while you do, or that your parents pay more attention to him/ her than to you.
That, however, doesn't mean that your parents love your brother or sister more than you. Nor does it mean your brother or sister tries to hurt you or ignore you. It is the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that affects the way he/she acts, and the way your parents act towards him/ her.
Autism is a spectrum disorder that heavily affects the development of the brain. People with autism find these things difficult:
Social communication: Your brother or sister may find it hard to speak, or even do not speak at all. For those who do not speak, they may use pictures or sign language to express what they want or how they feel. Your brother or sister may not be able to understand faces, and thus may not realize whether you are angry, upset or happy. He/she may not know how to act when you feel upset, and may even laugh at you when you are upset. Remember that he is not doing that on purpose. He might be thinking that you are just pulling a funny face.
Social interaction: This is all about making friends, playing with others or helping others. Your brother or sister will find it hard to make friends with others, including you. He/she may prefer to be alone for most of the time. When it comes to playing, your brother or sister may find it confusing and even frustrating watching people play. He/she may not understand about the importance of 'being polite', for example asking you to take your toys, or saying "please".
Social imagination: When you do anything, for example play games, you will need to use your imagination. Autism makes your brother or sister has difficulty imagine things. Thus, he/she won't know how to play pretend games, because he/she doesn't know what is like to 'act' as another person. Your brother or sister may also do one or several same things everyday without a purpose.
How to act?
Talk to your parents:
Talk to them about how you feel, what trouble you have to deal with (for example being teased at school about your sibling), and share your thoughts. Your parents are the ones who will know what to do, and will be able to give you advice. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts with your close friends or other siblings. Also, get to know more about Autism. That way, you can understand your brother/ sister better, sympathize with what he/she has been going through, and may slowly realize the person he/she is inside
Having a sibling with autism doesn't have to be all bad. Actually, as many brothers and sisters have proved, by learning to see the world through their siblings' eyes, they turn more tolerant and patient towards other people. You will somehow learn to love your sibling and your family more.
Below are some websites that you may find useful (they contain much information and pictures and are written in a way that is easy for you to understand)
The National Autistic Society
Be sure to check out our web site carefully. We have demonstrations, quizzes and many things to help you understand about Autism.
Let's get to know your sibling from today!
Green, Gill (2000). "My Child Has Autism - A Parent's Guide". Singapore: Autism Resource Centre (Singapore). Page 2.
Wing, Lorna (1996). "The Autistic Spectrum - A Guide for Parents and Professionals". London: Constable and Company Limited. Pages 17-21.
Happé, Francessa (1994). "Autism - an introduction to psychological theory". London: University College London Press Limited. Pages 7-14.
The National Autistic Society