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Thread: Explaing autism to a young sibling?

  1. #1
    redd89 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default Explaing autism to a young sibling?

    I have 3 dd's , 5, 3, and 3. One of the twins has autism. My oldest dd keeps telling me she likes her "typical" sister better. My autistic dd can be difficult to play with and they fight a lot. She'll tell me she doesn't like her [autistic] sister and it breaks my heart. I haven't told older dd about the autism, I just don't know if:
    1) Is is appropriate to tell her
    2) Would she understand
    3) How in the world can I explain it on a 5 year old level.

    I just am not sure how to handle this - any advice is appreciated.
    Janie

  2. #2
    jeninnc is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default

    Hi Janie...

    This comes up for us most of the time when I enforce a rule for my almost 7 year old that I don't with Ellie (most of the time relating to food). I started talking to her about it at about age 5.

    I've given her the short version - that Ellie's brain works differently then hers, and that sometimes we have to make allowances for that, and that a lot of times she needs extra help and patience. I would keep bringing it up, and using real life examples (ex. let's talk about why you don't want to play with your sister - and build upon that). See what she thinks is going on.

    I don't know that Lacey knows the word autism but she's got two ASD kids in her 1st grade class and she picked up on them right away. It was really interesting. They both graviate towards her as well, I think because they see that she gets it.

  3. #3
    JulieATL is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default I can imagine how heartbreaking that must be....m

    I know how it feels when my ds's friends and peers shun him and gravitate toward other kids and if it were his own big sister or brother, I would be just so broken up. I would definitely begin explaining things on her level. You already got very good advice from the previous responder. I think you don't have to use the word "autistic" in any way. I'd just begin in context when she makes a comment and use it as an opportunity to explain. However, I would make absolutely sure neither of your twins hears you. I'd just say that all children are different. Some are different in ways you can see like blonde hair, tall, short, wearing glasses, etc. And some are different in the way they act. You can say her sister just acts differently than many other kids, and a lot differently than her twin. She has a harder time doing things that might come easier to you or "twin". It may be very easy for you to play certain games, or handle a place that's really loud, or follow directions right away. But those things are so, so hard for her. I know it's really frustrating for you, and I completely understand. We just need to figure out ways to help her and try to be patient. She'll continue to grow and get better at these things, just in her own way and at her own pace.

    Invite her to ask you any questions she wants about her sister and let her just vent about what bothers her. Be very empathetic, saying how frustrating it must be for her. Just the opportunity to say all these things to you might make her feel better. And then remind her that all her feelings are OK.

    I'd also (you may already do this...) set up games and playing opportunities with the girls where you actively facilitate and give your ASD twin lots of chances to succeed in the game and stay involved. And be sure to load on the praise for older dd when she shows patience and a willingness to involve her ASD twin.

    Also, I know in my area, there are organizations for families with special needs kids that have clubs or meetings for typical sibs of SN kids. You might see if you find anything like that. Maybe check with one of the therapists for your ASD dd. That can go a long way for your older dd to feel understood and not feel so different by having a "different" sister.

    Hope this helps.

    Lots of hugs to you and all your precious girls,
    Julie

  4. #4
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    Default It's a hard one, here's what we have done...

    My ds (who has autism) has a twin sister. I have done many things to help her understand. First, she has gone to tons of his therapies throughout the years. (they are 7) There have been times where the therapist has used Megan in an activity. That was very cool for her. I took her to a sibling support/playgroup one semester. It was great. I would still be taking her, but it was too hard to get her there, with her schedule and mine and Alex's! Does your district have anythin like that? Our district has an autism social worker, she runs the sibling groups and all the parent meetings in the disrict. I have told Megan that Alex has autism. She has understood that for about a year, since kindergarten. I started by explaining that his brain works differently and that he learns differently, etc.
    It's very hard....we have a younger ds who is almost three. He doesn't get Alex yet,but I can see that he is wondering about certain things. (like why Alex still wears a diaper, for instance...) I really want to potty train my younger and he insists that he can wear a diaper because Alex does. UGH! Sooo, I need to find a way to explain some things to him!
    Anyway, I hope something I wrote can help you.

    Kathie




    Quote Originally Posted by redd89
    I have 3 dd's , 5, 3, and 3. One of the twins has autism. My oldest dd keeps telling me she likes her "typical" sister better. My autistic dd can be difficult to play with and they fight a lot. She'll tell me she doesn't like her [autistic] sister and it breaks my heart. I haven't told older dd about the autism, I just don't know if:
    1) Is is appropriate to tell her
    2) Would she understand
    3) How in the world can I explain it on a 5 year old level.

    I just am not sure how to handle this - any advice is appreciated.
    Janie

  5. #5
    mickey2's Avatar
    mickey2 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default a few great kid books to read to them

    "my friend with autism"

    "tobin makes a friend"

    "when my autism gets too high" version 1
    "when my anxiety gets too high" 2nd version


    all are written at a kid level and help not only the child with autism get it but those who play with him/her. that is if they are willing. you can find them on amazon. hth!!

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