ASAT Responds to Autism Parenting Magazine’s, “Simple Ways You Can Help Strengthen the ASD Sibling Relationship”

February 15, 2017

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Dear Ms. Burton,

We are writing in response to an article you recently published titled, “Simple Ways You Can Help Strengthen the ASD Sibling Relationship.”  First, we would like to commend you for discussing an important topic that impacts all families with siblings, particularly those families whose children include an individual with autism.  As you pointed out, growing up with autism can be challenging for the individual diagnosed with autism, the parents, and siblings.  The challenge of building healthy relationships can face additional strains when one sibling has autism.

Developing healthy relationships between siblings can be more difficult for children with autism due to deficits in social, communication, and interpersonal skills.  As you discussed, challenges for the siblings of the child with autism may surround difficulties connecting, lack of understanding, frustration, barriers such as communication and common interests, envy, or resentment.

We appreciate your comprehensive array of suggestions for families to help nurture strong, healthy relationships between siblings.  The suggestions you shared highlight important themes such as communication, understanding, encouragement, responsibility, reinforcement, accomplishment, attention, and individuality for all children involved.  As an organization committed to the dissemination of science-based treatment, we would like to highlight the benefits that can be derived from teaching individuals with autism skills needed to develop and maintain healthy relationships.  For example, using evidence-based, applied behavior analytic strategies, individuals with ASD can be taught communication, social, and interpersonal skills that will aid in fostering healthy relationships with their siblings.  Furthermore, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates that siblings can learn important skills to be agents of change.

Thank you for highlighting the importance of strengthening the relationship between siblings, and providing positive strategies in which parents can nurture these relationships.  We at the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) hope that your article will help families find ways they can foster these relationships, as well as provide learning opportunities to further expand the skills of individuals with autism.

Thank you for mentioning the Organization for Autism Research resource at the end of your article.  For additional information on this important topic, please see a recent addition to our Clinical Corner library.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Cote, B.S. and David Celiberti, PhD, BCBA-D

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

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