Preparing to welcome a new baby into your home can be an exciting and happy experience, but it can also be a difficult time of adjustment for older siblings. When older siblings have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they may need additional consideration, support and attention to assist them to cope with this dramatic change in their life.
Many siblings struggle with mixed feelings when they hear their mother is going to have another baby – excited about having someone new at home, scared that parents will have less time for them, and uncertain about how life at home will change. When a child has ASD, these mixed feelings may be more intense depending on his/her level of functioning and unique traits associated with ASD.
WHY MIGHT IT BE DIFFICULT FOR MY CHILD WITH ASD?
Many children with ASD struggle with being able to communicate verbally with others, so it may be difficult for them to ask questions they may be wondering about, or talk about emotions they may be feeling.
- Managing Change
Children with ASD of have difficulty with managing changes – big and small. Having a new baby in the house leads to many changes – availability of mom and dad/other family members, changes in rules, changes in sleeping routines, and changes in caregivers (family, babysitters, respite services).
- Sensory Challenges
Children with ASD may be very sensitive to sounds, smells and touch, or they may seek out that kind of sensory input. New babies tend to be very loud when they cry and they have smelly diapers. The baby may reach out and grab hair or feel heavy when placed in a child’s arms or lap. These sounds, smells and physical sensations may be overwhelming to a child with ASD.