When a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it impacts the entire family and not just that child. ASD presents all family members with a variety of joyful as well as challenging moments. The child may be receiving social skills or other interventions, and parents usually get to speak with the therapists and other parents.
What about the siblings? Other children in the family experience are also there for the joys and challenges, and have their own perception, understanding (and sometimes misunderstanding) about their brother or sister with ASD. But siblings rarely are given the opportunity to speak with the therapist, or attend support groups or workshops. In fact, if they do go to a workshop or conference with their parents they will likely find themselves in a separate room with the childcare provided by the workshop sponsor.
There are, however, support groups and programs specifically for siblings, and TAP at CTF Illinois is holding one this weekend in Danville. This Sibshop provides fun, peer support, and information for brothers and sisters of children with special needs through a variety of activities. A recent Sibshop conducted by CTF Illinois received coverage on the Journal Gazette & Times Courier website. One 8-year-old girl said she would like to go again, and you know that means it was fun.
A separate group for parents will be held at the same time and location as the Danville Sibshop Sunday. Called Parent Connect, it provides an opportunity for parents to discuss their experiences and needs in supporting all of their children, learning new things to help respond to sibling rivalry and enhance overall family dynamics.
The next CTF Illinois Sibshop is this Sunday, May 4, from 1pm – 3pm in Danville. You can register for this event here. You can also contact Cheryl Sowers at CTF Illinois for more information. Cheryl can be reached at 217-348-3869 extension 206, or by email at CherylSowers@ctfillinois.org .