CARE’s support groups, workshops, and lending library are open to parents, grandparents, family,
and professionals who are facing autism related issues in our community.
Siblings have needs, too! Growing up with a brother or sister who has special needs can be stressful and overwhelming at times. It can also be empowering and insightful. Many siblings adapt to this gracefully, while a few will struggle. There are a few things that they require to feel included: knowledge, acknowledgement, and opportunities.
The more you learn, the more you know
Knowledge is power and siblings can certainly benefit from information when it involves the exceptionalities of a family member. Research indicates that children who are not provided with answers to their questions, will develop their own answers. Across the age span, siblings will likely experience feelings of guilt, sympathy, and even jealously towards their brother or sister. These feelings are not uncommon and should not be disregarded by parents. There are a number of books available now to help parents to provide information about special needs to siblings. It is important to provide information that is appropriate for the sibling’s age and level of understanding. A little knowledge can go a long way.
Ask a sibling about their life and they might tell you about the countless hours spent waiting in therapy waiting rooms, driving to appointments, and sometimes, “walking on eggshells”. The most common theme amongst siblings is “fairness”. Families often expend a great deal of time and energy into treatment for their child with autism. Siblings might feel as if they are hiding in the shadows. It is important for parents to recognize a sibling’s need for their own time, too. Most siblings will never share their feelings with their parents, because they are worried about letting them down. In some cases, although siblings might not speak their feelings, they will express them through behavior. When a sibling is acting out for attention, parents should take listen, take notice, and try to find more balance across their time with each child. Children who are experiencing more extreme difficulties may benefit from counseling. Remember that siblings grieve and feel loss, too.
Making my way
As life presents its blessings and challenges, sibling’s needs will change. Empowering them with their own identity and continued, open communication will enhance their relationships across their lifespan. In some cases, siblings will play an important caretaking role for a brother or sister with special needs in adulthood. Empowering them with sensitivity, tools, and a sense of advocacy will help them to embrace their role in a positive way.
What are SibShops?
Originated by Donald Meyer and Patricia Vadasy, Sibshops provide opportunities for siblings of children with special needs to come together to share their life experiences with other siblings who understand. These one hour workshops are provided in a series of six sessions throughout the year and offer a unique opportunity for siblings of all ages to come together to laugh and learn. Check the Calendar of Events for the next Sibshop.
Asperger’s Syndrome Support Group
Now meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at noon (September-May). Bring a lunch, meet new people, swap information, share stories, and find support. This group meeting is open to the community and will cover important topics, such as:
• Increasing awareness about Asperger’s in schools, neighborhoods, and the community
• Surviving adolescence
• Strategies for dealing with your child’s frustration, anxiety, and self regulation
• Social strengths and struggles
• Theory of Mind development
• And so much more…
Location: 6215 Lorraine Road, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202