HOW TO TELL FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Once you have had time to consider your child’s differences, you will need to
decide how to tell your other children, family members and friends. At some
point, you will want to tell your child, too.
They may often find it difficult to understand why their • brother/sister
behaves in certain ways. They may feel rejected if he/she does not want
to play with them.
• They may feel as if you are not giving them as much attention, or you do
not love them as much.
• These feelings may show in their behaviour to gain more attention, rather
than being voiced.
‘My child finally understands her sister has a reason for being the way
she is but has no support for how to deal with her sister’s behaviour.’
‘My boys have an older sibling who won’t accept that they have autism.
He thinks it’s down to us giving them their own way.’
‘His big brother finds it hard sometimes but he is so good with him too and tries
hard to understand and avoids things that upset him. He is very supportive.’
SIBLINGS - HOW CAN I HELP?
- Give siblings as much information as possible about autism, depending on their age and level of understanding.
- Talk about their feelings. Tell them it is okay to feel angry, sad, etc.
- Give them the opportunity to discuss feelings with someone they trust. They may not want to worry you).
- Tell them that having to spend more time with their sibling doesnot mean you love them less.
- Encourage them to interact with their sibling.
- Help them understand the difficulties and the strengths of their sibling.
- Tell them they are an important member of the family.
- Give them their own space and privacy without interruptions.
- Give them a safe place to keep • important things.
- Make individual time with your children. Explain that this is their time just with you.
- Think together about activities which can be done as a familyand one to one with you.
- Praise their positive behaviour. Look for lots of little things to praise.
- Explain that other people may not understand autism and may react differently.
EXTENDED FAMILY AND FRIENDS
It is important that family and friends have an understanding of autism so
they can help support your child appropriately.
At first, you may decide only to tell those closest to you. The decision to tell
family and friends is individual to you and your personal circumstances.
Different people react in different ways. Some members of the family or
friends who do not know your child very well may give unhelpful suggestions
or make misguided comments. Try not to take this to heart.
‘Older relatives tend to be less accepting. They may see it as a bad reflection
on their family or they may suspect you are fault. You just have to keep
telling them till it sinks in.’
‘It took outside friends and family lots of time to accept my child is autistic.
It needed severe symptoms that appeared at puberty before they accepted it.’
FAMILY & FRIENDS - HOW CAN I HELP?
- Give them some basic information about autism and explain how it specifically affects your child and their behaviour.
- Provide them with appropriate information about typical signs/behaviours of autism so they can begin to understand.
- Encourage them to talk to you if they want to know more or if they do not understand your child.
- Accept help and support from family and friends when it’s offered. They may be grateful for some practical ways that they can do this.
- Tell them how best to connect with your child, i.e likes and dislikes, best way to communicate.