Your child with autism has a very special source of support in a brother or sister. That’s because brothers and sisters can use their own experiences to explain their sibling’s autistic behavior to other children, including playmates. They may also help out with chores or with their sibling. As you rely on them, remember that they need and deserve chances to just be kids. Keep these points in mind:

Allow for strong feelings. It’s okay for siblings to have strong feelings about each other. They may even feel a few different ways at once: proud and at the same time puzzled, angry, frustrated, or worried. Encourage them to talk about those feelings or to write them down or draw a picture to show how they feel.

Make time to be together—and apart. It’s great for the whole family to enjoy time together, but everyone needs to be alone sometimes, or to take a break with friends—and that’s okay. Try to give each child the chance to spend special one-on-one time with one or both parents, too.

Help your kids celebrate who they are. Ask siblings to think of the ways they are alike, and the ways they are different. Find different ways of celebrating each child in order to express that he or she is amazing!

Find others who will support your kids. Sometimes siblings need to share their feelings with grown-ups who aren’t their parents. Make sure your children have trusted adults they can talk to.