How can I help my neurotypical children to understand their brother with Aspergers?
Neurotypical children can have a difficult time understanding their brother with Asperger’s Syndrome. He seems smart, uses big words that are hard to comprehend, avoids hanging out with the family, and focuses all of his being on his special interest. In many ways, he is a stranger. He does not appear to be disabled; he just seems quirky and embarrassing.
Depending on the age of your neurotypical children, there are different approaches for this type of situation. If you have young children, you might choose to read them a story like “Everybody is Different – A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters with Autism,” by Fiona Bleach. This book explains Asperger’s Syndrome and answers the questions that siblings tend to have.
Older children may need family pep talks and counseling to help them understand and cope with their brother’s condition.
Here are a few things you can do to create understanding for your neurotypical children.
* Explain the condition to your children. Give each child an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions suitable for your family dynamics. Present Asperger’s Syndrome as an obstacle to be tackled by the entire family. This will increase understanding and unity.
* Talk about your son’s embarrassing characteristics and how your family can make things better. No child wants to be embarrassed by a sibling in front of his or her friends. Give your neurotypical children the information they need so they know that your son’s behavior is not personal and is not just bad behavior. Encourage them to dismiss this embarrassing behavior in the presence of friends while explaining his condition. This will bring about awareness and acceptance in your family’s community circle.
* Encourage acceptance of your son and Asperger’s Syndrome. As mentioned above, siblings who dismiss awkward behavior and accept their brother will gain acceptance for your family.
* Celebrate your son’s strengths. Your son is an intelligent individual with many strengths. Recognize these strengths as a family.
* Allow your neurotypical children to help your son with therapy his homework. Nearly all therapies can be worked on at home for greater progress. Enlist the entire family and multiply your son’s social interaction and progress on therapy goals.
* Autism support groups offer siblings a chance to build friendships with other children living with a sibling with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.
* Family counseling and individual counseling can help your neurotypical children learn to cope with the differences caused by Asperger’s Syndrome.
Thanks for reading,