Advice Column, Child, Health, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

Explaining autism to a neurotypical child

  • Caroline Syokao
  • Category Advice Column, Child, Health, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

Parenting is not easy. But, parenting a child on the spectrum is even harder. This is because there are numerous challenges that come with it. One of the challenges is explaining to your neurotypical child about their ASD sibling.

It can also prove to be a daunting task talking about autism to an adult let alone a child. Autism awareness is very important. However, most experts have not done their best defining it as it is not an easy concept.

So, is it important to explain autism to your neurotypical child? Yes it is, as this will prevent any sibling rivalry. Your typical child needs to understand why their sibling is given more attention and why they behave the way they do.

Since your ASD child will encounter other children at school, church and other places, it is also vital you explain to them about this condition.

In this article, you’ll get tips for talking to your typical child about their autistic sibling.

Helping your Child to look at the positives

Nowadays, people use different terminologies when trying to define autism. However, when doing this, focus on positives rather than negatives when talking to typical children.

You must focus on your autistic kid’s strengths and skills. This helps your neurotypical child and other children to view autism from a positive perspective. 

As much as your child has special needs, don’t label them as special or unique. This is because it might create a rift between the children. 

Teach your neurotypical child to be empathetic and to have a sense of responsibility towards their sibling. This can be achieved when they explain to other children about their ASD sibling. 

This helps to foster a sense of understanding rather than causing a rift between them. Your typical child feels the need for them to be there for their sibling. 

Using Books

Children love to read books, right? Books are one of the best ways of explaining autism to your typical child. There are numerous books available for children of different age brackets.

You can choose a book depending on the age of your child and read it with them. Your child will tend to empathize with a certain character in the book and this will slowly cause them to do the same with their sibling. 

This might take some time but it will definitely happen! Your child will also have a chance to ask questions if they didn’t understand something.

The power of books to change minds and hearts cannot be overemphasized. 

Become Part of an ASD Support Group

As much as autism is overwhelming to the parent, it is also to the neurotypical child. It is helpful for the child to hear about autism from other people.

This is why joining an ASD support group is important. Families get to share experiences with each other and also gain some useful tips from other parents who’ve dealt with the condition for a while. 

In addition, your neurotypical child will mingle with other kids of their age. They get to discuss about their experiences of living with siblings on the spectrum. They share their highs and lows and this helps to relieve stress and anxiety. 

This makes them feel that they are not alone. 

Helping your Child to Embrace the Negatives

As a parent raising a child on the spectrum, you want the best for them. This is why you ensure early intervention.

However, as much as you do all this, there are times they experience sensory overload hence causing tantrums. 

Your typical child might not understand the sudden change in behavior of their sibling. Talk to them about it when their sibling is calm. 

In order to gain better results, it is important to do the following

  • Make sure your autistic child is part of the conversation. This gives them a chance to explain how they feel when they have sensory overload or when they do something repeatedly. 
  • Depending on your child’s age, tell them that ASD children process things differently and this causes them to express their feelings in varying ways. 
  • Embrace questions from your typical child. It is normal for your child to be inquisitive and you should not mistake it for being rude. Children are naturally curious. Understanding their confusion will enable you to help them more. 

With time your typical kid will know what stimuli and environments affect their sibling both negatively and positively. 

Teaching your typical child early about ASD gives you a strong support system in helping raise your autistic child.

Takeaway

When creating autism awareness, you should not forget about neurotypical children with siblings on the spectrum. This is because they also have a difficult time. 

Explaining to them why their siblings behave the way they do is crucial. This will help them empathize with and look out for them. 

Sibling rivalry caused as a result of different rules set for an ASD child will also be minimized. 

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