Siblings and Autism


It was after I got pregnant with Sissy that it became more and more apparent that Buddy has autism, though we did not get an official diagnosis until he was four (he was 3.5 when Sissy was born). I started to wonder if it was a good thing to have a second child because I wanted them to be friends and worried about their ability to bond and relate to each other. As it is, after the jealousy wore off, they have been two peas in a pod.

When one of them wakes up before the other, the first thing they insist on doing is go to the other’s room to get them up. And Sissy wants to do everything her big brother does. And Andy and I have both encountered the awkward situation of having them join forces against us.

Of course, like all, siblings, they have their spats and arguments over toys. For the most part, though, theirs is a typical sibling relationship that is close.

The other night, my best friend from college came in from out of state. She also has two children who are about the same age as my own, and both of hers are typically developing. She commented that, from Facebook, it appears as though my children get along very well. She mentioned that her oldest is very bossy so her youngest tries to stay away from her and they aren’t quite as cozy with each other as mine are.

So in some ways, Buddy being silent helps!

If anything, Buddy has bonded so well with Sissy I worry about him interacting with other children. When we go to the playground or when I drop him off at therapy, he’s so busy interacting with her he ignores other children. And once a child Sissy’s age started to play with her and Buddy got intensely jealous and tried to keep Sissy away from him.

In all, I think Sissy is good for Buddy. She’s a companion to play with and he tends to develop new skills as she develops them. And I think Buddy is good for Sissy. She’s going to learn tolerance and patience. Brent being autistic didn’t stop him from bonding with her no more than it stopped him from bonding with me, Andy, or anyone else in the family.

If anything, it seems being typically developing versus being autistic doesn’t factor in so much into how well they will bond. There’s a lot of different factors that play into it. But if you’re worried about your autistic child forming warm connections with his siblings, let’s just say, it is possible for it to happen!


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