Does any one have any suggestions on how to resolve conflicts between siblings with an autistic chil

Cindy - posted on 01/23/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I love my children more than anything in the world. My autistic 7 year old amazes me everyday. He works so hard at everything everyday and I am inspired by him. However I can't help but feel a bit defeated lately. We are working on different strategies for him to control his meltdowns and behavior in school.... and most recently my 9 year old son is having difficulties in school and it is effecting his self esteem. I am also concerned that having an autistic younger brother may be difficult for him as well so now I question every move and parental decision I make fearing that I may be "hindering" one child or the other.....Does any one have any suggestions on how to resolve conflicts between siblings with an autistic child. - I want so badly to prevent meltdowns and keep peace in the household but I fear that when some of these things happen my older son may feel to blame or that the younger autistic son "gets what he wants" .......... I greatly appreciate any suggestions because It's beginning to wear on my emotional well being and I need to be in a healthy place to deal with my childrens needs appropriately.

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Amy - posted on 10/15/2011

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I think we all run into this challenge. With mine, it seems to be a bit reversed. I had to explain to my eight year old why I expect her to do something but her 12 year old brother gets more reminders and help. I'm constantly having to remind my Aspie why his 8 yr old sister cannot perform at his level. What I've found works to cut through the comparisons between them is this... I explain to them that they are at different spots in their lives and they are different people. I remind my older son that when he was 8, we treated him like an 8 year old. He has different responsibilities and privileges now that he is older. I remind BOTH of them that they have strengths and weaknesses unique to themselves. Some things that one finds easy may be something the other struggles with. I remind them that this is because they are different people, one isn't any better or worse than the other... they're just different. Then I try to explain to them what challenge the other faces and how its easy for them to deal with but I compare it to something that is difficult to help them understand. It has helped a lot.

Cindy - posted on 01/31/2010

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Thank you all soo much for your support and ideas they are all wonderful advice and I can relate to each and every one of your stories. I greatly appreciate the time you have taken to send a message. it means so very much.

- on a happier note, my older son has begun seeing his counselor and seems to really like her. His overall tone has been much better over the past week. And just when I started to wonder if the successful changes we saw in my autistic son were gone after xmas break the "turtle technique" has seemed to step in and he had a fabulous week using respectful words with his classmates and the whole ball of wax. - As Heather said things can change quickly. thanks again for the advice and good luck to all of you.

Mary - posted on 01/30/2010

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It sounds to me like you are a wonderful advocate and caring mom for both of your children. You are wise to focus on your sons' strengths, courage and determination. It's difficult to prevent all meltdowns but sometimes you can predict those triggers (hunger, tired, stressed) that seem to set the stage for frustration to escalate to a meltdown. See if you notice a pattern that sets him off - then change the condition if you can. Praise them often and help them see their individual gifts and qualities of character that you want to see grow.

Conflict can be a beneficial part of normal social development and hard to watch as a parent. What would happen if they were left to work it out on their own? Praise and comment when you see them getting along nicely as often as you can. As an aside, research shows that typically developing siblings develop compassion, tolerance, loyalty, and appreciation for differences as they grow up. It's good to not lose sight of the big picture.

You might want to check out Sibshops http://www.siblingsupport.org/
These workshops are for siblings of children with special needs that help them understand and learn about their brothers or sisters through games and play.

Good luck.
Mary

Kathryn - posted on 01/30/2010

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I am so where you are. My son is 8 and has autism. I have a 4 year old daughter and 13 year old stepson. The fights are down right horrible. I find myself telling the other "normal' siblings to leave my son alone. It's easier to stop them than to stop him. He is 53 inches tall and 75 lbs. So it's easier to pick up my 4 year old and move her than to convince him not to hit her. I don't think it's hindering. I think it's smart.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/28/2010

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Hi Cindy: Here are some ideas from the A Wild Ride website (also on Facebook). Hopefully one or two of these suggestions will help. I've had to live through a very similar situation and can tell you now (five years later) that all is well between the brothers and that they are close friends.

Anyway, here's the ideas:

Simple things you can do every day to prevent fighting include:

• Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. Tell the kids that there's no cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, no door slamming. Solicit their input on the rules — as well as the consequences when they break them. This teaches kids that they're responsible for their own actions, regardless of the situation or how provoked they felt, and discourages any attempts to negotiate regarding who was "right" or "wrong."

• Let them know that they are safe, important, and needed, and that their needs will be met.

• Don't let kids make you think that everything always has to be "fair" and "equal" — sometimes one kid needs more than the other.

• Be proactive in giving your kids one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs. For example, if one likes to go outdoors, take a walk or go to the park. If another child likes to sit and read, make time for that too.

• Make sure kids have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.

• Show and tell your kids that, for you, love is not something that comes with limits.

• Have fun together as a family. Whether you're watching a movie, throwing a ball, or playing a board game, you're establishing a peaceful way for your kids to spend time together and relate to each other. This can help ease tensions between them and also keeps you involved. Since parental attention is something many kids fight over, fun family activities can help reduce conflict.

• If your children frequently squabble over the same things (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child "owns" that item at what times during the week. (But if they keep fighting about it, take the "prize" away altogether.)

• If fights between your school-age children are frequent, hold weekly family meetings in which you repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. Consider establishing a program where the kids earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling.

• Recognize when kids just need time apart from each other and the family dynamics. Try arranging separate play dates or activities for each kid occasionally. And when one child is on a play date, you can spend one-on-one time with another.

• Keep in mind that sometimes kids fight to get a parent's attention. In that case, consider taking a time-out of your own. When you leave, the incentive for fighting is gone. Also, when your own fuse is getting short, consider handing the reins over to the other parent, whose patience may be greater at that moment.

Debby - posted on 01/27/2010

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This probably won't be of much help to you,but one way I tried to prevent this from happening was to send my children to different schools (not practical for everyone, I know). This meant that they each had their own social network and weren't compared to eachother by teachers, etc. It also meant that my son would be less of a target for bullies because of his autistic sister.

At home, we always ensure they each get time alone with us, for instance we will take my son to a cafe of his choice for lunch without his sister, and we will take our daughter to the shops or park without her brother. It is hard, though to stop my son's feelings of resentment towards his sister, but generally I find this is due to his lack of understanding of her condition. So, a lot of time is spent educating him on why she behaves the way she does. I have also made it clear to him that he is not, nor never will be, expected to be his sister's keeper and that he shouldn't feel he has to give up on his time to care for her.

Don't know if any of that helps, but I just want you to know I understand your predicament.

Debby Smart
Scotland

Kari - posted on 01/26/2010

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Whenever my children get into fights I have them both go on timeouts. Sometimes I have my autistic son just go on a timeout if I can see he was the one causing the trouble. It calms him down and then they go back to playing. Also My son hates his sister singing or sometimes even talking cause she talks so high, so we just gave him some earplugs the other day and he was sitting on the couch while she was singing for like 20 mins just happy as can be! I was shocked! It was really nice to see that she could be herself and it didn't bother him anymore!!!

Bobbi - posted on 01/26/2010

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Hey Cindy, I am a mother of 3 children, my middle child is a 9 yr old boy that is autistic. I have him do the same things my older child does, to try and help him develop. I feel all of your pain! I get it! My older child picks on him all the time. What I have done is make sure that they both know that they are getting the same discipline as the other. I have sat my older daughter down and had her watch shows, similar to the Opera show on Autism to make her very aware of what my son is like. She got it and is more aware of what he does and why he does it. I educate her about him, to help her understand, and that causes her to be nicer to him and not pick at him. We are a very open family and talk about everything, as a family to make her aware and him what is happening with him. He is not on medication, but is on minerals. We visited a nutritionist to find out that there were things he needed in his body. This works for us and he is able to go to school easier and has been able to socialize better with his peers. Try just doing one one one stuff for the other child to allow him to see his brother through another light.Hopes this helps?!

Susan - posted on 01/26/2010

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I dont know if it will help for you, but it has helped a lot for us. My Autistic son was relying on his younger sister in the playground at school that she was becomming a bully to protect her brother from bullies. she was also making other kids play with my son & helping him that she was getting into trouble, same old story teachers on duty never saw the kids bullying Patrick, but caught Jodie's retalliation. they were also fighting all the time at home. So we made the difficult decission to move them into different schools & its worked.Jodie can be herself at school, she has lots of friends & they dont know about her brother. & Patrick has had to learn to go to hi aide if he is having problems as Jodie isn't there to talk for him. I has also helped a bit at home too. they miss each other during the day & are actually nice to each other for about an hour each day, we still get sibling rivalry with them & their older brother, but not as bad as it was before.

Keri - posted on 01/26/2010

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I empathize with you completely. Our youngest is Autistic and his older siblings do verbalize that they feel he "gets ehat he wants". We have worked very hard, over the past year especially, to have more harmony between the three of them. We have involved them in learning the ABA techniques (so they understand he does have consequences, they are just different from their own) and given them some responsibility over him, which has made them feel included and understand a little better how hard it is for him. For example each typical child has a preferred activity of our child with autism that only they do with them. This is nice for all because it helps with the relationship forming that they sometimes lack and makes them feel loved by him. We have also validated that yes it sucks for them sometimes, especially with my 13yo son who is embarrassed by the meltdowns,tantrums moreso than my daughter. And really tried to keep them involved in extra-curricular activities and have time alone with them whenever possible. It is very emotionally wearing, especially when you're constantly second guessing everything you do. Hang in there.

Heather - posted on 01/25/2010

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Good Luck in everything! Make sure you take care of yourself too, as you can become the trigger if they pick up on your emotions, which they usually do. You can do it and don't give up quite so soon, things can change quickly.

Heather - posted on 01/25/2010

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There is no easy way around this one. The best suggestion I can give you is to keep separate them whenever you see any signs of frustration coming from one or the other. Give them something to distract from their frustration. That's about all you can do. Anything further can just fuel the problem more. Avoid any possible triggers for the ASD child as much as possible. My son is 13 and my ASD daughter is 11 now and that is the only thing I have found to hae any affect on that situation.

Kendra - posted on 01/25/2010

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I have 2 boys, my 11yr old has autism and my 9 yr old does not. I also have a stepdaughter who is 10 so we got lots of family dynamics going!! LOL Anyways, I got the Autism Acceptance Book for the 2 siblings. It was recommended by the school counselor and for their age group I thought it worked great. It's a personal book that they can write in. It explains autism in a very kid friendly way. It talks about the sensory issues and tries to help the child see it through autism eyes :o) It will do things like list 5 noises that are really loud to you and can maybe be scary (thunder, fire alarm, etc) and asks them how it makes them feel. Then it will go on to say, now imagine hearing everything that loud noise all the time, every time someone talked, or a car drove by, etc. It talked about ways to help the autistic child understand and ways to help the siblings understand. Plus it was something very easy to do with them so it sparked lots of questions which led to lots of conversations. Anyways, I understand how you are feeling!! Good luck and know you're doing the best you can because you're doing it out of love for both of your children!!

Sandie - posted on 01/25/2010

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Hi there, this is a tough one hey? my daughter (17) has ASD, she tries to parent my younger daughter (11). This leads to no end of conflict. I have done as Suz suggests for years but it no longer works. The younger daughter is so angry and frustrated she is now being refered to counselling.

I would suggest Suz's method for as long as possible and then try using time for just the children together. Buy a timer.. 5 minute one to start with and tell them that its there time to have free time.. for the first session give them an activity.... slime works reqlly well...lol then ask them to choose the next activity themselves. Make sure it features on the schedule or calendar too... gradually increase the time until they are having kids time for 15 minutes or more... let me know how you get on :-)

My daughters are inspirational to me too.. my website is due to them.

www.ishop-4-potential.co.uk

[deleted account]

It goes with the territory...doesn't it? The special needs kid being SPECIAL. I will never forget when something happened one day with my special needs daughter and I looked up and I could see it all over my son's face.



Your older son is old enough for the words and definitions to be introduced to him. Teach him about ASD and tantrums. He may not grasp the concept but if you find good explanation now and repeat them long enough it will start to make sense.



Work on your older son's issues... which it looks like you are doing. Spend one on one time with him. Reward his good behavior. Hire a sitter sometimes and go out without the special needs child. So worth the money!



I am fairly sure if you go to the local library you may find some books that are children's books that you could share with your older child regarding this issue. I just can't think of the titles right off.



Don't be afraid to seek outside counseling. Schools are great for information-- but many times the teacher and admins are trained for classroom situations only. I took advice from someone early on...... to eager for any ideas--turned out they not only didn't know about special needs all that much... they didn't have children of their own. I never take advice from someone who hasn't been there, don't a least a little of that!

Zoe - posted on 01/25/2010

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Hi Guys! I know how all of you feel, for each set of comments, something has rung true with me, and I suspect we all echo this. There are times when the other siblings just feel as though the child with ASD problems is always "getting their own way" and there are times when they have to "have their own way" for their own sanity (and everyone elses!) for example, bright lights, certain music, a smell of a certain food (i.e Twiglets is our trigger!) but it is a learning curve for the whole family, to find what is right for all of them. My eldest went throuh a phase of bitter resentment, but he has come to understand his brother's "world" and although he still finds it difficult at times, he is fiercely protective of him now, and much more mature in his outlook. We just try to set aside time on their own for each of them to do something they like to do, even if it is a cuddle and a story.
Stay strong and be positive xx : )

Teena - posted on 01/25/2010

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i have 5 children and my youngerest is 9 with ASD and ADHD..my other children always say that i favour him and i say that he is younger and just needs me that little bit more he needs that help a little more as you kids are bigger and when you were his age you needed me more too...I tell my kidss i love them all the same and i have no favourites but they do say that alot but i try to get them to understand that K is not like you or any normal 9 year old kid and he needs our help sometimes it works...i have to change his disapline every week as what worked one week doesnt work the next it is a battle and is so hard i know how you feel but we cant change it and we do our best to make our kids happy but sometimes you feel it is not good enough the will understand as they get older...if and when you can spend more time with your child that doesnt have ASD eg take them out of school for the day i used to do this once a month for each child and take them to the movies or shopping or just a relaxing day at home..as mine are getting older i dont have to do it as offten things will be ok ...

Sheila - posted on 01/24/2010

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There are times when we just have to do things a certain way because certain events trigger meltdowns. It is what it is, and we all have to accept it. It is an awful lot to ask of my eight year old, but it is what we must do.

An example is my son cannot tolerate certain types of music, or people singing. My daughter LOVES music, and will make up songs and sing away. So, when we are in the car alone, I crank up whatever music she wants and she just sings like there is no tomorrow.

I acknowledge her sacrifices, let her know I am aware, and try to make up for it in other areas. She gets stressed, but she is also her brother's greatest friend and defender.

Resolving conflicts is a struggle in any home, and growing up with my siblings I ALWAYS said that my older sister was dad's princess. We are best friends.

Do your best, acknowledge that life is different for your "typical" child because of autism, and know that with time your boys will find their way.

Fair doesn't mean everyone gets treated the same. Fair means everyone gets what they need to be the best that they can be.

Good Luck,

Sheila

Renee - posted on 01/24/2010

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That is a really tough one and I'm dealing with that same situation as well. My son is 8 and my daughter is 10. My son has autism and my daughter doesn't. She will sometimes make the comment "he always gets away with stuff". That is not true, but it is true that I have to work him through so many situations and she's sees that as getting off easy I think. I have explained to her countless times that we need to give Miles extra time to learn and be generous about his meltdowns, etc. She agrees but then a few days later it's back to the same squabbles. I think it's going to be a long way before she really understands. I also make it a point to tell my daughter that she is a great artist, student, daughter as often as possible. I also like to compliment her when she is being a great sister to him and not let the good things she does do go unnoticed.

Suz - posted on 01/23/2010

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firstly, unfortunatly i dont have all the answers, i wish i did, but i know what you are going through and sometimes its just nice to know someone else knows how you feel. i have a 12 year old daughter and an 11 year old autistic son. if its possible try to have a set time every day or week just for you and your eldest, it dosnt have to be long even 5 or 10 minutes. explain to him that his brother is special and things that he may find easy his brother struggles with, buy one toy one book or one something speical just for your eldest it dosnt have to be expensive but its one thing just for him and explain to him that he is special too.. try to explain that your youngest needs a little exra time, support and understanding but you will always have this special time with just you and him. try to give them the same punishment but with different degrees, if your eldest does something wrong maybe make him sit or stand on the bottom stair for 5 or 10 minutes, do the same for your other son but for a shorter time. and set aside some time each day for them to play or do something together. also if your eldest is finding it hard to explain to you how he is feeling buy those magnetic letters and each day get him to write on the fridge how he is feeling.

hope this helps

Clare - posted on 01/23/2010

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hi i havnt the answers you need but i sympathise im also in this position,everyday is a struggle at mo so i to am hoping for answers from here.

good luck thinking of you

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