What is the effect of Autism on families?

Nevertheless, when a sibling is diagnosed with Autism, the family dynamics can become more intricate.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) carries with it a profound influence not only on the individuals diagnosed but also on their families. As Wakely elucidates, siblings of children with Autism often exhibit distinct behavioral patterns, including challenges and strengths.

Children who grow up with a sibling affected by Autism may, in some cases, display more behavioral issues than those without an autistic sibling. This can manifest as acting out, disobedience, and aggressive behavior, posing unique challenges for these families. Wakely’s observations substantiate this pattern, noting that these behavioral tendencies are more frequent amongst siblings of autistic children.

However, the impact of having an autistic sibling isn’t universally negative. Many studies suggest that these children often embody a positive outlook and disposition. Wakely adds, “These children tend to exhibit a high level of maturity and empathy, often surpassing their peers in these areas. They tend to have a positive self-concept, and they often find social interaction and adaptation more manageable.”

Autism, predominantly identified during early childhood, is a neurological disorder that affects many children globally. Yet, the symptoms and severity of the condition vary widely from child to child. As a result, the specific causes of Autism remain elusive to researchers, but the prevalence of the disease is universally acknowledged.

Autism can significantly impact a person’s ability to interact and communicate with others. This impairment often makes it challenging for those affected to initiate and maintain relationships, leading to strained family dynamics and emotional hardship for family members.

Autism’s diverse nature and global prevalence necessitate a broader understanding of its impact on families. Wakely emphasizes, “Given the significant number of families affected by this disorder worldwide, it is crucial to consider how Autism influences not only the individual diagnosed but also the other children within the family.”

Siblings of Children with Autism: Navigating Support and Connection

Siblings of Children with Autism

Siblings have a significant impact on each other’s lives, offering companionship, shaping personalities, and creating enduring relationships. Nevertheless, when a sibling is diagnosed with Autism, the family dynamics can become more intricate. This article delves into the challenges that siblings of children with Autism face and stresses the significance of support and connection. We’ll also explore ways to empower siblings and improve their relationship with their autistic brother or sister.

The Journey of Siblings

From an early age, Jhope Raelia was determined to connect with his brother, Matthew, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two in the 1980s. However, during that time, Autism wasn’t well-known, and resources were limited. This lack of understanding left Jhope feeling isolated and alone in his experiences as a sibling.

Dr. Sandy Harris from Rutgers University, a renowned researcher in the field of Autism, emphasizes that siblings of children with Autism often feel lonely and left out. They witness their brother or sister receiving most of the attention, and their needs may go unnoticed. Recognizing this, Dr. Harris co-authored the book “Siblings of Children with Autism: A Guide for Families” to provide guidance and support.

Providing Support and Building Connection

Recognizing the challenges faced by siblings, Rutgers University offers sibling support groups where children can come together and share their experiences. These support groups aim to equip siblings with essential skills to connect with their autistic brother or sister effectively. For example, one exercise involves wearing a glove on their hand to simulate the challenges their sibling with Autism faces when performing simple tasks. This activity helps siblings gain empathy and understanding for their brother or sister’s unique perspective.

In these support groups, children have a safe and non-judgmental space to express their emotions. It allows them to vent their frustrations and fears while finding solace in knowing that other siblings share similar sentiments. The support groups also encourage open communication, helping siblings develop coping strategies and fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Positive Impact and Future Prospects

The impact of sibling support groups has been remarkable. Parents have observed positive changes in their children’s behavior and relationship dynamics. Siblings are getting along better, engaging in interactive play, and experiencing fewer conflicts and tantrums. In addition, the opportunity to share their challenges and triumphs with peers who understand their situation has been transformative.

Moreover, research conducted over the past two decades reveals an inspiring trend. A staggering 76% of individuals who grew up with an autistic sibling have chosen careers in the human services profession. This inclination to give back to the community highlights the profound impact that siblings of children with Autism can have on society.

Embracing the Future

As siblings like Jhope mature, they face new concerns about their autistic brother or sister’s future. While parents work diligently to ensure financial security, there is another critical aspect to consider: companionship and support in the long term. The fear of their autistic sibling growing old alone weighs heavily on their minds.

This apprehension stems from the effort it takes to bridge the gap between the autistic individual and the world around them. Siblings want to ensure their brother or sister is not left without a support system later in life. The thought of their sibling navigating the challenges of aging without anyone by their side is a source of profound worry.


Being a sibling of a child with Autism presents unique challenges but also offers opportunities for growth, empathy, and resilience. Through support groups and educational initiatives, siblings are being empowered to connect with their autistic brother or sister in meaningful ways. The impact of these efforts extends beyond their immediate family, with many siblings dedicating their lives to helping others in the autism community.

As we continue to advocate for inclusivity and support, let us recognize the invaluable role of siblings in the lives of individuals with Autism. By fostering understanding, compassion, and connection, we can create a world where siblings and individuals with Autism thrive together, ensuring a brighter future for all.


  1. The Sibling Effect: Behavioral Implications of Growing up with an Autistic Brother or Sister.” Wakely, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  2. “The Positive Side: Enhanced Empathy and Maturity in Siblings of Children with Autism.” Wakely, Journal of Child and Family Studies.
  3. “Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Global Perspective.” World Health Organization.