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First Published Saturday, 10th May, 2008.
Now and again the question of effect on siblings in families on the spectrum is raised.  In “Living with impairment: the effects on children of having an autistic sibling”, we take a balanced look at family life on the spectrum.
Siblings of autistic/AS children tend to be less hostile, less embarrassed, more accepting and more supporting than siblings of neurotypical children. Warm, harmonious family relationships have a protective effect, even when the impairment is severe (McHale et al. 1984).

It’s usually the more capable autistic child who whines about the unfairness of life than his siblings. They may resent not being allowed to do the same things at the same time, ie go to the same school or University etc.

We mustn’t forget that ‘normal’ family life is by no means problem-free. The mere presence of an autistic child or children is never going to be the sole cause of problems, though it may exacerbate problems from time to time. Guidance, open discussion, and sensitive handling of situations as they arise is par for the course parenting-wise.

Generally, the prognosis for a happy, non-resentful future adult-life for siblings greatly depends on the attitude of parents. Many studies have found that positive attitudes on the part of parents are reflected in the feelings of siblings, and encouraging them to value the assets of the differently-abled child is all-important.
To view the full article:


The following books/booklets are especially for siblings:

“Everybody is different: a book for young people who have autistic brothers or sisters.”
By Fiona Bleach

This book is different!  Aimed at school friends or brothers and sisters aged 8-13yrs of autistic children, it is written and illustrated by an accomplished artist who has worked in a National Autistic School.  Fiona explores the characteristics of autism, what it feels like to be a brother or sister of someone on the spectrum and offers helpful coping strategies.

“Able autistic children:  children with asperger syndrome:  a booklet for brothers and sisters” by Julie Davis

Designed for siblings of children with able autism or Asperger Syndrome from the age of seven, this booklet focuses on Asperger syndrome and the sibling experiences.
Published by the Early Years Diagnostic Centre

“Children with autism: a booklet for brothers and sisters” by Julie Davis
In the same series as Able autistic children, this booklet looks at siblings of autistic children, explains what autism is and explores some of the difficulties that siblings may experience.

“Can I Tell You About Asperger syndrome?  A guide for family and friends” by Jude Welton
Adam is 9 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome.  Here he explains his talents and difficulties as if talking to school friends and family.  Jane Telford’s cheerful pictures brings Adam’s world to life.

“My brother is different:  a book for young children who have autistic brothers or sisters” by Louise Gorrod.
Written by a mother of an autistic child and beautifully illustrated infull colour, this books explains the behaviour of an autistic child in terms that young siblings will understand, enabling them  to deal practically and emotionally with their brother/sister.  This book is aimed at younger siblings aged 4-7yrs.
Published by The National Autistic Society

“Siblings of children with autism:  a guide for families” by Sandra L Harris
An invaluable guide to understanding sibling relationships, how autism affects these relationships and what families can do to support their other children as they cope with the intensive needs of an autistic child.
Published by Woodbine House

“Brotherly Feelings – Me, My Emotions, and My Brother with Asperger’s Syndrome” by Sam Frender and Robin Schiffmiller

“Special Brothers and Sisters” – Stories and Tips for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, Disability or Serious Illness
Edited by Annette Hames and Monica McCaffrey

“Wishing on the Midnight Star” – My Asperger Brother by Nancy Ogaz


1. Carol and Eli Surber left…

Wednesday, 22 April 2009 11:20 pm :: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID

My son, now 32, was diagnosed with catatonia after 8 months of searching for an answer. For those months, he was mute, posturing, barely breathing, sat with his head on his knees for hours, would only move with our assistance, drooled and his eyes were like glass. We feed, bathed, dressed and moved his frozen body as we searched for a physician. Several physicians would not see him as they did not know what to do. I kept a journal and listed details of the beginning of his life, and the pre-symptoms before the autism and catatonia diagnosis. I listed all treatments, trial and error medications to bring him out of the catatonic stage. He eventually progressed to a near death stage and ECT therapy was mentioned. We did not accept the ECT, but instead tried different medications. He was lucky we found a catatonic specialist at the Ohio State University…who knew immediately what the problem was. This catatonic stage developed when he was 15, after abuse in a school setting. He also has Downs syndrome. I published the book, It’s Ok Eli in Feb 2008, unedited, with personal and detailed tests, results, pre-symptoms covering 22 years in his life. Included in the book are reactions from his older sibling. I hope the book will help others facing the same situations. The catatonic specialist that helped Eli, is also the co-author on the book, Catatonia, From Psychopathology to Neurobiology, by American Psychiatric publishing.

2. Julie left…

Thursday, 23 April 2009 11:18 am

Dear Carol – Thankyou so much for sharing this … My thoughts are with you, Eli, and your family, for all you have been through and your journey ahead. I’ve no doubt that your book will be of enormous help to others – thankyou for so generously sharing it.