I can see that you all are connecting to this topic, and I love to see that. When I see students connect to the topic of typically developing kids having a sibling with autism, I know that your sympathy and empathy are taking over. In the world of special education, that is a good good thing. Like I have said before, I see many future teachers, social workers, therapists in the room with me. And if you don't eventually end up going into one of those fields, I know that you will forever have people with disabilities in your hearts and that you will find some way to make a difference!
Back to the topic of "Siblings". There are a few more things that I want to discuss before we wrap this topic up. Some defining things within a family help to have a more positive/negative effect on the sibling of a child with autism such as:
- Bigger vs. smaller family
- Two-parent family vs. one-parent family
- Higher vs. lower functioning
- High income vs. low income
- Birth order
These are all important things to remember and keep in mind whenever you are working with someone with autism or if you happen to be friends with a sibling of someone with autism. Every kid is going to respond differently, but as discussed in class, these five things will have a large effect on how that sibling responds.
There are some other important things to think about when you are looking at the effects on siblings. Have any of you thought about what will happen to our peers after they graduate high school? What about 10 years after that? Or maybe 20 years after graduation. Where will they be? There are options that are out there for our peers when it comes to schooling and careers, but I want to focus your attention to living arrangements right now.
If you are anything like I was, when thinking about your own future you may be thinking that after graduation you will go to college and live on or around campus. Then if you have to, you could move back in with your parents for a few years after college but that would most likely only be temporary while you work to get a place of your own. Basically, once you graduate high school, you are pretty much done living with your parents.
What about our peers? Where do they live? Think about all that we have learned when it comes to the stress and time that it takes to have a child with autism in the house. I, personally, do not blame parents for wanting a break after awhile. Unfortunately for the parents, there are not that many options out there and what options there are, they don't fit for everyone. (One kid with autism is one kid with autism).
One of the main options is to have someone with autism live in a group home. There are many different kinds. Some people live with just a few others with disabilities and have a mentor of sorts living or checking in with them on a regular basis. Others live in a larger group home with full-time staff. Some people with autism are high functioning enough and learn enough life skills that they can live on their own as long as someone regularly checks in with them.
But what about the parents that cannot afford this? What about the parents (and people with autism) that just want to stay in the home. This is not an uncommon thing. Making such a huge change as to live somewhere else can sometimes cause more negative effects than positive effects. So what then? What happens when the parents get old? Who takes care of the person with autism when the parents no longer can? You guessed it, the siblings are often left with that job.
It can be an unfortunate hardship. That is why we work so hard to teach our peers life skills. The more people with autism can learn to take care of themselves, the less families need to shell out major cash to put them in a group home. The less "burden" these people with autism will be to their siblings. Imagine trying to earn enough for your own housing, raising a family, buying a car, having enough to eat... and then also the extra money that you need to help support your sibling with autism. This is a hard hard decision that many typically developing siblings need to make.
Check the homework tab for an article about this.
See you all tomorrow!
Mrs. VanLaan, Mrs. Hoekwater, and Mrs. Bosch
P.S. Enjoy this video that went viral on Facebook in the fall! Another tear-jerker. You athletes will especially enjoy this. It's one of my favorites.