Effects of Sibling Rivalty and Aspergers Syndrome

Our youngest daughter has been diagnosed with Aspergers
demands a lot of our attention. What can I do to reassure
elder sister's that we're not neglecting them?

Explaining Aspergers syndrome isn’t easy no matter who you are talking to. It’s not something that can be described in a single, snappy sentence.

There are problems because you cannot tell by looking at someone if they have Aspergers syndrome. Also because the causes of Aspergers are yet to be clearly identified it can sometimes be difficult convincing people that the condition actually exists.

You could try explaining to older children that, people with Aspergers basically have problems in 3 major areas. This is usually part of the criteria for diagnosing Aspergers syndrome.

These areas are:

1) Social communication
This means knowing what to say to other people and understanding the meaning of what they are saying to you. Just imagine how many times a day the basics of social communication come into your child’s life; at the shops, at home, at school, in the street.

People with Aspergers Syndrome can have problems when talking to other people as they can take things people say literally. An example would be if you say to someone with Aspergers “I laughed my head off” they may become alarmed believing that your head really did come off of your body.

It can be very hard for people with Aspergers to understand when someone is joking and that is why they may become angry or upset by something you have said that wasn’t meant to be hurtful.

2.) Social Understanding:

This means knowing what to do when you are with other people. People with Aspergers have difficulty understanding social relationships, they do not understand all the rules involved in social relationships.

As we grow up we learn how to behave appropriately in certain situations, for example we learn not to say things to people like “you look fat” (unless we are deliberately trying to be hurtful).

A person with AS usually doesn’t meant to be rude, even though it can sometimes appear so, it’s because their understanding of how to behave is confused.

3.) Imagination
This is the ability to think about things that aren’t real.
Children with Aspergers syndrome tend not to be interested in games that involve pretending to be someone else (like cops and robbers).

Some children with Aspergers can be very interested in things that aren’t interesting to other children or exclude social interaction.

They may like collecting items that seem dull or unusual to us.

One book that is aimed at children ages 7-15 is “Can I Tell You about Aspergers Syndrome? A Guide for Friends and Family” by Jude Welt.

Some other books written by young people with Aspergers are “Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence” by Luke Jackson written by a boy with Aspergers who was 15 at the time and “Aspergers Syndrome, the Universe and Everything” by Kenneth Hall.

There are also websites that provide a great deal of information about the condition.

A good one is Sibnet, set up by the Seattle Children’s Hospital Project. Sibnet is specifically for siblings of disabled children and is for both young siblings and adult brothers and sisters.

The site contains information and resources for siblings of disabled children and allows them to subscribe to the site - a place where they can share information and discuss issues they may be facing.

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