News of one of your children showing autism signs can be nerve wrecking and hard to accept for any parent or family member, but you will also have to think about your other children who will grow up with your baby with ASD. Sibling love and support are essential and critical for the growth and also socialization of a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). When you are old and gone, the children will have to take care of themselves on their own and for that purpose you will have to educate and provide understanding to all your children.
Effect of the ASD on normal siblings
A child with any disability will inadvertently affect the growth and mental development of their normally functional siblings. For older siblings it will make them growth up with the understanding and notion of responsibility of protecting and caring for the sibling. For a younger sibling it will be about what a mental handicap can limit in a person.
Also when it comes to younger children with normal functions, these children can develop feelings of jealousy when you pay more attention to your child with ASD. Younger children will also have difficulty with understanding why their sibling cannot do what they do and why they cannot play with them as well. It will be a good idea to take all children together for visual art classes for kids sessions to do exercises together.
When growing up the siblings will almost always have protective feelings for their siblings and anger at outsiders for staring or laughing at their sibling. The child will also develop feelings of embarrassment of being with their sibling in public and the guilt for these feelings (especially when they understand the reasoning for the ASD).
Giving the explanation
Older children will understand the idea and also the responsibilities of handling their sibling with ASD. But for the younger children it can a bit difficult to teach them about the difference unless they notice it themselves. But in children of any ages, protective feelings of a sibling will be there right from the start so you might not have to give a thorough explanation until they are old enough to understand it themselves. The first thing to do will be to identify to what degree your children understand the difference between them and their sibling with ASD, and you can carry on from that. You can also take your children to a child development center for a short introduction to what the disorder is and how to cope with it.
It is essential that the children grow up together with the understanding of the behavior for their sibling with ASD. As children grow up, they will also become more responsible and protective of their sibling.