When a Sibling has Autism

I grew up with a brother and sister. My husband is one of eight kids. Our son, Norrin, is an only child. And I’d be lying if I said him being alone doesn’t make me sad.

After Norrin was diagnosed with autism, I couldn’t think about having another child. I was scared of having another child with autism. I was worried if I had a typical child – would they resent growing up having a sibling with special needs? It took time for me to be emotionally ready to have another child. When I was pregnant for the second time, I was both excited and nervous. But after a miscarriage at sixteen weeks, I’ve been hesitant to try again.

I remember someone once told me that siblings are the best therapists for kids with special needs. I didn’t believe at first. But reading about these sibling relationships makes me a believer. These kids – and their parents – give me hope and the courage to think about having another child.

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  • When a sibling has autism 1 of 8
    When a sibling has autism
    Seven very special siblings. Click through to read about these very special relationships as told by their moms.
  • Like Two Ships Passing in the Night 2 of 8
    Like Two Ships Passing in the Night
    Marj, The Domestic Goddess
    Like Two Ships Passing in the Night ~ "Getting my boys to interact is like putting pantyhose on a goat, as my mother-in-law says. In terms of functioning and autism, they couldn't be further apart. Luke, who is currently ten-and-one-twelfth (That is very important, that one twelfth, and is much different than JUST TEN) is in the higher-functioning range with a diagnosis of PDD-NOSE or Asperger's depending on the weather that day and which doctor we are seeing. Ian, who turned eight just after Christmas with very little fanfare (just the way he likes it) is considered severely-to-profoundly affected."
  • Distant Planets 3 of 8
    Distant Planets
    Varda, Squashed Mom
    Planets ~ "I do not like that my children are distant planets, each locked into their own distinct orbits, occasionally approaching but never truly crossing paths, both merely circling 'round me, their sun."
  • Love & Understanding 4 of 8
    Love & Understanding
    Alysia, Try Defying Gravity
    Love and Understanding ~ "I know I ask a lot of Gerry. And a lot of what I ask is conflicting and confusing. I ask him to understand his brother and tolerate his behaviors, yet I reprimand him when he steps into the role of parent. I want him to know why his brothers do what they do, but then ask him to do things that go against his own sensory sensitivities.My kid takes on more than he should and yet I need him to. Tonight, he showed acceptance and understanding. And in the most loving way possible."
  • No Pity Parties 5 of 8
    No Pity Parties
    Jo, A Sweet Dose of Truth
    No Pity Parties Please for My Son and His Special Needs Brother ~ "Here is a photo of Ian, age 9 1/2 (left) and Andrew, age 11. Photo courtesy Melody Calvert Photography. Ian is Andrew's younger "older" brother, who has taken on the role of best friend, mentor, and protector with grace. We couldn't be more proud of their unique and amazing relationship! Andrew is non-verbal and has significant delays in all areas of development, and Ian continues to guide him with patience and love. It's a beautiful thing to witness indeed and as parents, we are humbled by their love for one another!"
  • He is Her Hero 6 of 8
    He is Her Hero
    "Butterfly" Mama, My Winter Butterflies
    My Hero ~ "My daughter received a homework assignment the other day. She was asked to write an essay about her hero. This afternoon she typed it up and then showed it to me. There is no reference to autism anywhere in what she wrote. She doesn't see her brother as a label or a diagnosis.
 She sees him as "Nick".
To her, he's her brother and her hero."
  • Do I Have Autism Too? 7 of 8
    Do I Have Autism Too?
    Kristin, Running To Be Still
    Mommy, Do I have Autism Too? ~ "Sometimes I think there should be a special diagnosis for siblings of children with ASD, they go through so much. Maybe they should be labeled as BKS (Brother's Keeper Syndrome) or AOLFF (Always On Look-out For Flapping). It is really, REALLY hard to juggle the needs of both kids during those stressful times…[but] brothers are brothers. They will define their own roles in order to have fun, so as long as we continue to find some way for Johnny to look like he does in these photos, we're doing OK."
  • You’re Never Too Young to Raise Awareness 8 of 8
    You're Never Too Young to Raise Awareness
    Emilia, featured on AutismWonderland
    You're Never Too Young to Raise Autism Awareness ~ Emilia, gave a speech at her school forAutism Awareness Day. She explained, "Autism is a mental disorder that many kids, including my brother have. They aren't gross, or weird, or contagious. They are just like us, but have a hard time learning or communicating."

Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.

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