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Sibling Relationships: How do I get my children to understand each other?

30 blog avatar Sibling Relationships: How do I get my children to understand each other?
Expert Name: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy, Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Monisha Acharya-Lammert has been serving children with autism spectrum disorders for eleven years

now and has been employed with Step By Step Academy, Inc. since 2002. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She has served as an in-home behavioral consultant for consumers privately for five years and is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Monisha has supervised and overseen intensive behavioral intervention in classrooms as part of a partnership and collaboration with several school districts in the state. Currently, Monisha is the Clinical Project Manager at Step By Step Academy.

Sibling Relationships: How do I get my children to understand each other?

As a parent with a child/adolescent with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you know how difficult it is for him/her to make friends, join in play, and most importantly, build relationships. Socialization is of course, one of the top three deficits in individuals with ASD.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), an individual with ASD will have…

• Qualitative impairment in social interaction

• Qualitative impairments in communication

• Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities

Therefore, you may ask yourself… how do I help my child develop those relationships especially with his/her sibling? Of course all parents want to see their children get along (well, at least try to get along) and interact with each other as all siblings do.

Here are some suggestions for you to try in order to build those relationships:

1. Have your other child reward his/her brother/sister (diagnosed with ASD) with a treat or item upon completion of a specific task (ex. washing his/her hands). This is referred to as being paired as the “giver of good” and we want to do this as a way to develop a rapport with the child on the spectrum.

2. Ask the sibling to play with his/her brother/sister (again, the one diagnosed with ASD) by following him/her around the room and joining him/her in whatever they are doing. This is called “pairing” in the ABA world.

3. You may want to look into activities around your neighborhood that would include both of your children to participate (for example, an indoor gym or recreational center).

**And, as a friendly reminder, this will be an ongoing process that will not get resolved overnight. Stay focused and creative!


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Copyright 1994 American Psychiatric Association


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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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