When there is disruption in the household between two people it affects everyone, and that can happen a lot with an Autistic child. Siblings of Autistic children may not interact with their ASD brother/sister, or there may be arguments and misunderstanding between them. This happens a lot because let’s face it sibling relationships are difficult as it is, but throw in a child who has trouble communicating, playing outside of their comfort range, with little understanding of social interaction, and there’s bound to be some issues. This isn’t anyone’s fault and the great thing about Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) is this can change for the better!
First it must be remembered that the other sibling may be hurting in this scenario. They often have a lot to take on with their Autistic sibling already; they may feel alienated, burdened, ashamed, guilty or frustrated. This is why it is not only the ‘typical’ child that should engage and interact.
The Autistic child should be encouraged to join the other sibling with whatever they are playing. This can be done by physically moving the child to that location, following them and using encouragement. The caregiver should be with the Autistic child giving praise, support and allowing the other sibling to feel as if their brother/sister has entered their world.
Another technique that your ABA therapist may use is simple free play. Playing in the same area as each other in a new environment, such as a ball pit, play pen or the beach will foster a positive experience together. Which will help to build bonds; just as it would with another other siblings in the world.
Lastly, your therapist may have the other sibling reward the child with Autism. They could have your ‘typical’ child give the child with ASD a treat when they complete a task so the child with Autism recognize the sibling as somebody positive. After all, children of all ages work well with praise and build confidence and positive relationships upon this, why not get the other sibling involved?
ABA can work to make any relationship stronger between your Autistic child and the other party, and sibling relationships are precious.