Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider
Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

The bond between siblings cannot be denied. Siblings of children with autism can have a very positive influence on them and encourage them in a lot of ways. However, they may sometimes struggle to understand their brother or sister and how they can best support them. As a family member or parent, it is important to remember that they live in a unique situation that carries certain emotions and daily challenges. This can cause confusion about why their sibling reacts differently to certain situations. It is why supporting siblings of children with autism is so important and we will offer some advice on how best to do this.

Core Values of Autism Assessment Centre Ireland

Create a comforting space

Parents want nothing more than for their family to feel loved. When one of their children has autism, however, the dynamic can change. Siblings may feel omitted as parents devote significant time and attention to caring for their brother or sister with special needs. In such situations, it is important to create a comforting space for them to express their emotions and concerns. They need to know they are not alone in their experiences and that they too are valued members of the family.

Parents should ask them how they are feeling in an open and kind manner, listen to their needs and ask what they can do for them. They need to be aware of their body language and the tone of their voice, as well as their words. By creating a supportive environment for all family members, parents can help to ensure that their children feel loved and accepted no matter what challenges they may face.

Did You Know?

The current prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Ireland is approximately 1% of the population.

Autism and heart jigsaw

Encourage open communication

For parents, fostering open communication between siblings is crucial. While having a sibling with autism can certainly bring unique challenges, it can also offer opportunities for growth and understanding. Encouraging everyone to speak openly about their feelings and experiences can help them develop a deeper empathy and a stronger bond between each other. Setting aside time for family meetings or one-on-one conversations can be immensely beneficial.

It is important for parents to approach these conversations with compassion and understanding, acknowledging the complex emotions that may arise. Siblings can then feel more supported and validated in their experiences. Building strong bonds can have a positive impact on the whole family.

Core Values of Autism Assessment Centre Ireland

Support groups

It can be challenging to navigate the unique experiences that come along with this diagnosis. Fortunately, there are support groups in Ireland specifically designed to provide guidance, resources, and a sense of community. These groups understand that parents of children with autism are often very busy and other children in the family may feel excluded.

By joining a support group, siblings can connect with others who can relate to their experiences and offer guidance and support. Whether it’s finding ways to manage emotions or learning about the latest research, support groups provide a safe space for them to share and grow together. You can find more advice and support from Autism Ireland as well as Ireland’s National Autism Charity.

Not only do these siblings need patience and compassion from family members but they also require educational support on how to adjust their expectations of the relationship with their autistic family member. This will allow all individuals to have meaningful connections.

These steps can create a profoundly rewarding experience for both the sibling and the child with special needs when done correctly. It can be challenging sometimes and this is why making time for understanding and communication is important.

Taking time to sit down together as a family to talk about the situation and ask each other questions and express feelings can be powerful in building trust and connection. Together families have the power to create an environment where everyone feels seen, appreciated, heard, and supported.

At Autism Assessment Ireland, we understand your world and we speak your language. Families are guided by our highly trained, understanding professionals so they know exactly what to expect and are educated each step of the way.

Find out more about our Autism Assessment Services today and how they can support your family.

Accessing Special Education Services in Ireland

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider
Accessing special education services in ireland

Accessing Special Education Services in Ireland

All parents want to ensure their children receive the best possible care and education to equip them for a bright future. When a child is diagnosed with learning or physical disabilities, it can be overwhelming trying to understand what the next steps should be for getting the necessary support. Having the correct information about accessing special education services in Ireland and how families can best navigate them is vital.

If you are a parent of a child identified as requiring this, there are many resources in Ireland that can help. These services can give you the clarity to make decisions about your child’s future and can help them on the path towards meeting their full potential with their education and social life.

ASD Assessment

If you believe your child requires support, the first step is an Autism Assessment which we provide as part of our services. An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment is a multi-step process that includes information from a variety of sources.

The main tools used during a basic ASD assessment are: the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised), Child/Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (CSP/AASP), and the ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule).


An extended interview completed by an experienced clinician with a child’s or adult’s parent/caregiver. Information is collected from different areas of functioning.

The Sensory Profile 

A standardized questionnaire completed by the parent/caregiver of a young child or an Adolescent/Adult being evaluated. Looks at your child’s ability to process input using their five senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste.

The ADOS-2

A semi-structured, standardised assessment of communication, social interaction, play/imagination, restrictive and repetitive behaviours.

Irish Society for Autism

After the Autism Assessment is carried out, there are many other support services available that will suit the needs of your child. The Irish Society for Autism is an example of one. This society offers a wide range of services and support, providing information through training and educational programmes for families, educators, students and health care workers. With a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers, the Society strives to enhance the quality of life of those on the autism spectrum, and promote their social inclusion within the wider community.

They offer a range of information services in the form of:

  • Support Groups: established residential services across the country.
  • Educational Workshops: they work with primary and secondary schools across the country, providing awareness and education programmes.
  • Social Events: they organise international conferences featuring world renowned experts in the field of Autism to bring awareness.

They are passionate about raising awareness for autism and advocating for the rights of those affected. The work of the ISA is truly inspiring, and they continue to make significant strides in improving lives throughout Ireland.

Did You Know?

A study by researchers in DCU suggests that Autism affects at least 1 per cent of the Irish population, similar to rates in the US and the UK.

School Support

If your child is diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty or disability, they could be eligible for additional support in school. Accessing this support involves working with your child’s school and the relevant educational authorities to create an individual education plan. It will outline your child’s specific needs and the supports required to help them succeed. The type of support provided will depend on the individual needs of your child and may include:

  • Learning Support: additional teaching to help your child learn and progress.
  • Resource Teaching: involves a teacher working one to one with your child.
  • Special Schools: schools designed for children with special education needs (SEN) who require intensive support.

The educational environment can be an overwhelming place for children as they may struggle to adjust to changes in routine and the surroundings. Teachers and parents must work together to provide the necessary support which should be tailored to the individual child’s needs. It may include a range of helpful learning strategies such as:

Visual Aids: objects of reference, eg packaging, food labels and coloured pictures.
Calming Techniques: relaxing classroom music to play in the background while the children are learning.
Sensory Support: squeezy balls, hobby clay, and fidget toys. 

National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)

NEPS is a government-funded service that provides psychological assessments and support to schools and students, working in partnership with teachers, parents and children in identifying educational needs. Their aim is to support the well-being, learning, and development of children and young people. To access their services, simply contact your child’s school and they will arrange for a referral to be made. Support to schools is made through consultations, assessments, interventions, special projects and research with regards to:

  • Guidance on behavioral, emotional and social difficulties.
  • Special learning needs.

Their efforts contribute to the creation of a safe, inclusive, and positive learning environment that enables students to excel academically and thrive socially.

Access to special education services in Ireland is a fundamental right. It is important to consider all available options while researching, so that children have the best chance of receiving the services they need. Having the knowledge about accessible services can be beneficial for parents, teachers and students – improving the life of those affected by learning difficulties. Access to these services allows children the appropriate support they need while working towards their education goals.

Find out more about our services and how we can help.