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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Supporting Siblings Through COVID-19

Remember & Read

While families are inside to stay protected against COVID-19, daily stressors and challenges multiply. It can be difficult to spend time individually with each child, especially when there is a child with autism in the family. Below are some quick tips to support siblings through challenging times. The first section of this resource, “Remember”, lists a few things to keep in mind while supporting siblings. Part two, “Read”, includes a list of books that could be helpful in supporting siblings.

  • Sometimes special needs siblings feel confused as to their role in the family. They can unintentionally get overlooked, are expected to always be on their best behavior, and are given higher expectations. One way to make them feel included is to give the sibling a job that involves doing something positive with/for their sibling with special needs. For example: The special needs child has a security toy. The sibling’s job is to to make sure that special toy doesn’t get misplaced. If it does get misplaced, maybe the sibling can lead a search party to help find it!
  • Siblings can act out from family dynamic stress. Be sure to interact with them often during tense times. For example: “I love you. I can see that you’re upset. Yelling is not solving things. How can we work together as a team, so that it doesn’t get to this level next time?”
  • When the sibling doesn’t follow a boundary, be supportive, yet consistent with consequences. Help them understand the rule and the behavior. For example: “I appreciate that we talked about what was going wrong, however, I have to remind you that the 30 minutes of lost computer time still stands.”
  • Just like you, siblings get stressed, tired, and require extra support. It’s very important to take the time to acknowledge the sibling and his/her thoughts, stressors, and needs. Aim for at least one, one-on-one, undivided attention to the sibling daily. Also, try and plan at least one monthly activity with the sibling. For example, cooking together, arts and crafts, or a day outdoors doing something fun.
  • Give praise to the sibling often. Even the small things count! Make sure to be specific with your praise when they are doing things right. An example would be, “Today, you were very patient and caring. I really appreciate your help while we were participating in an online telehealth visit.”

Below is a list of books that could potentially be helpful in teaching and supporting a sibling of an individual with autism:

  • When my Worries get too Big- A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live with Anxiety; Kari Dunn Buron
  • Rules; Cynthia Lord
  • Views from our Shoes-Growing up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs; Donald Joseph Meyer
  • In My Mind-The World through the Eyes of Autism; Adonya Wong
  • What about Me? A Book For and By An Autism Sibling; Brennan Farme
  • A is for Autism, F is for Friend-A Kid’s Book on Making Friends with a Child who has Autism; Joanna L. Keating-Velasco
  • My Sister has Autism; Stephanie & Sherry Ham
  • The Friendship Puzzle; Julie L. Coe
  • Ben has Autism. Ben is Awesome; Meredith Zolty
  • Autism, the Invisible Cord A Siblings Diary; Barbara S. Cain
  • The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family; Paul Karasik and Judy Karasik
  • Special People Special Ways; Arlene Maguire
  • Siblings of Children with Autism: A Guide for Families; Sandra L. Harris
  • Sometimes My Brother: Helping Kids Understand Autism Through a Sibling’s Eyes; Angie Healy

Spanish

Mientras las familias permanecen en casa como medida de protección contra la COVID-19, los factores estresantes y los desafíos cotidianos se multiplican. Puede ser difícil pasar tiempo individualmente con cada niño, especialmente cuando hay un niño con autismo en la familia. A continuación, encontrará algunos consejos rápidos para apoyar a los hermanos en tiempos difíciles. En la primera sección de este recurso, “Recuerde”, se enumeran algunas cosas que pueden tenerse en cuenta para apoyar a los hermanos. En la segunda sección, “Lea”, se incluye una lista de libros que podrían ser de utilidad para apoyar a los hermanos.

Recuerde

  • Los hermanos de niños con necesidades especiales suelen sentirse confundidos en cuanto a su papel en la familia. Pueden ser descuidados involuntariamente, se espera que se comporten siempre de la mejor manera y se espera más de ellos. Una forma de hacer que se sientan incluidos es darle al hermano un trabajo que implique hacer algo positivo con o por su hermano con necesidades especiales. Por ejemplo: El niño con necesidades especiales tiene un juguete que le proporciona seguridad. El trabajo del hermano es asegurarse de que el juguete especial esté siempre en su lugar. Si el juguete no está en su lugar, el hermano puede dirigir un grupo de búsqueda para ayudar a encontrarlo.
  • Los hermanos pueden portarse mal debido al estrés de la dinámica familiar. Asegúrese de interactuar con ellos a menudo durante los momentos de tensión. Por ejemplo: “Te amo. Puedo ver que estás molesto(a). Gritar no resuelve las cosas. ¿Cómo podemos trabajar juntos como un equipo para que la situación no llegue a este nivel la próxima vez?”.
  • Cuando el hermano no respete un límite, sea comprensivo, pero no deje de ser coherente en cuanto a la aplicación de las consecuencias. Ayúdele a entender la regla y el comportamiento. Por ejemplo: “Aprecio que hayamos hablado de lo que estaba pasando; sin embargo, tengo que recordarte que aun así perdiste los 30 minutos de tiempo frente a la computadora”.
  • Al igual que usted, los hermanos se estresan, se cansan y necesitan más apoyo. Es muy importante tomarse el tiempo para reconocer al hermano y sus pensamientos, necesidades y los factores que le generan estrés. Procure compartir diariamente con el hermano al menos un momento en que le preste atención personalizada solo a él. Además, trate de planificar al menos una actividad mensual con el hermano. Por ejemplo, cocinar juntos, hacer actividades artísticas o manualidades, o un día al aire libre haciendo algo divertido.
  • Elogie al hermano a menudo. ¡lIncluso los pequeños detalles cuentan! Asegúrese de ser específico con sus elogios cuando el hermano haga las cosas bien. Un ejemplo sería: “Hoy fuiste muy paciente y cuidadoso. Realmente tu ayuda fue muy importante durante la consulta de telesalud en línea”.

Lea

A continuación, encontrará una lista de libros que podrían ser útiles para enseñar y apoyar al hermano de una persona con autismo:

  • When my Worries get too Big- A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live with Anxiety; Kari Dunn Buron
  • Rules; Cynthia Lord
  • Views from our Shoes-Growing up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs; Donald Joseph Meyer
  • In My Mind-The World through the Eyes of Autism; Adonya Wong
  • What about Me? A Book For and By An Autism Sibling; Brennan Farme
  • A is for Autism, F is for Friend-A Kid’s Book on Making Friends with a Child who has Autism; Joanna L. Keating-Velasco
  • My Sister has Autism; Stephanie & Sherry Ham
  • The Friendship Puzzle; Julie L. Coe
  • Ben has Autism. Ben is Awesome; Meredith Zolty
  • Autism, the Invisible Cord A Siblings Diary; Barbara S. Cain
  • The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family; Paul Karasik and Judy Karasik
  • Special People Special Ways; Arlene Maguire
  • Siblings of Children with Autism: A Guide for Families; Sandra L. Harris
  • Sometimes My Brother: Helping Kids Understand Autism Through a Sibling’s Eyes; Angie Healy

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.