Being a Sibling to Autism

Being the sibling of an Autistic Child. Autism and Siblings,
Autism Siblings Quotes of Sisters Learning from Special Needs KidsAutism Siblings Quotes of Sisters Learning from Special Needs Kids

I hope no special needs mama’s take this title badly. It’s just the only words I could come up with to aptly describe my Designer Diva. She truly is, a sibling to Autism. Out of three children, she is the only typical child born in our family.

Is that accurate?

I recently started seeing this pin going around that then turned into an Instagram post. It says “If you want to know how to treat a child with Autism…look to their sibling, they will show you.”


Let’s agree to disagree

I’m sorry, but this statement makes me crazy angry. I feel like this just puts way to much pressure on typical siblings first of all, and second, no child is born knowing how to treat an Autistic child. Adults need to LEARN how to do that, so putting something out there that a child will simply know how is ridiculous. Being the mother of two children diagnosed with Autism and one typical child, I can tell you, it’s just like every other sibling relationship. Except, she doesn’t understand WHY they do the things they do. Why they are so overwhelming and get so upset so easily. Our Designer Diva had to learn all about Autism, and specifically, how it affects her brother and sister in DIFFERENT ways!

Designer Diva is still just a 9-year-old girl though. She still gets annoyed with her older brother and little sister just like any other middle child would. They all still fight just like every other set of siblings on the planet. The difference between Designer Diva and another middle child is that she has worked her but off to learn what’s okay and what’s not. She has had to learn patience and empathy at a very young age. My dear girl has experienced enormous amounts of guilt in her 9 short years. Guilt wishing she could take back words or actions because she realized that they have a bigger effect on her siblings than they would on typical children.

What it’s like to be the sibling

So, what is it like to only have Autistic siblings? I’ll let her answer for you :).

What’s it like to have siblings with Autism? “It’s very difficult. Sometimes it can be annoying or frustrating.”

What do you think the difference is between Special Needs siblings and typical siblings? “They get frustrated a lot quicker. They can get upset if sometimes things don’t go the way they want them to.”

Do you wish your brother and sister did not have Autism? “Yes,” Why? “Because it would be easier for them to have friends and for me to play with them.”

What is your favorite thing about them? “Sir. E is really funny and Little Miss Psychopath is fun to play with”

What’s the best thing? “They love me, not as much as a normal brother and sister would, a lot more”

What’s the worst thing? “Tantrums”

What advice would you give to kids younger than you that have a brother or sister with Autism? “I would probably tell them that it’s hard to take care of them but, they will love  you more than anybody else”

If you want to know how to treat a child with Autism…

Does she know how to treat them? Of course, she does, she treats them like her brother and sister. That’s not how others should treat them though. If you want to know how to treat a child with Autism, get to know them and educate yourself! Advocacy and awareness is about getting people to educate themselves and learn how Autism can affect a child. If you want to learn empathy, patience and true love, look to the sibling of an Autistic child.

I must say, she has learned to always watch and be on alert, I fear she’s turning into a mini special needs mom…

T, xx




13 thoughts on “Being a Sibling to Autism

  1. I have a brother with Aspergers’. We are now both in our fifties. The negative side: When we were kids, his behavior sometimes embarrassed me. Other kids teased me about having a brother who behaved atypically. Our parents found it very difficult to raise a child with Aspergers. They were constantly upset — worried about his schooling, his lack of friends, his future. They also were very angry and sad that they had a child with special needs, overwhelmed with trying to discipline him, and get him a diagnosis, proper schooling. It was hard to be around their misery. I felt I couldn’t have needs, that I had to be the perfect child to compensate, and I resented it. It felt like everything was all about him. Our extended family was not supportive either and felt that he just needed more discipline and then he’d behave like everyone else. So we visited relatives less, and couldn’t do things like take vacations and go out to eat. Our parents were that embarrassed by his behavior.

    The positive side: As we have gotten older, my brother has become a wonderful friend. He’s smart and creative — he really thinks outside of the box and encourages me to do that too. He’s open-minded and accepting. I can tell him anything, my worst mistakes, my silliest fears, my craziest thoughts, and he doesn’t judge me. He’s overcome so many obstacles; his teachers told him that he wouldn’t be able to graduate from high school — he has a Masters’ Degree. He’s dealt with bullying, and has struggled to get hired for a decent job, despite his excellent qualifications. He doesn’t give up, and he encourages and inspires me to keep working for my goals too.

    1. Thank you for sharing your insight! It’s so nice to hear the perspective of a sister to a special needs. I try so hard to make sure my designer diva doesn’t feel that way. I’m sorry for your experience growing up but it brings me joy to know that your and your brother are friends today and get inspiration from each other. Thank you so much!

  2. Lovely, from you Tif,and yes, this should be address and I can imagine the situation, and also I have friends with ADHD, so I know how challenging it is, but who says we give up? We are created equal, so everyone deserves to receive natural love! Love this statement too “They love me, not as much as a normal brother and sister would, a lot more”

  3. This is something real side…Autistic child needs special care but the other typical child never understand it why?? And this is re somewhat injustice to that child. We are creating so much social pressure to understand their sibling with autism..but somehow I think child have a big heart..sooner or later they know why their siblings need more attention and slowly and after their parents they are who will support and care them.

  4. Thank you so much for speaking up and sharing about real life with autism! It sounds like your daughter is doing an amazing job as sister to her siblings.

  5. What a beautiful post, your daughter’s insight into her relationship with her siblings is so insightful and heartwarming. I think this post will be wonderful for her to look back on in the future to see what her 9 year old self was thinking and feeling. Her siblings will also be able to cherish her words forever “They love me, not as much as a normal brother and sister would, a lot more”. That’s the pin quote that should really be circulating 🙂

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