There are many wonderful things about being a sibling to a child on the autism spectrum, but there can also be challenges. Siblings play an important role in families and in the lives of autistic children. Some researchers have found that siblings of children with autism can experience heightened stress, responsibility and emotional difficulties.

At CliniKids, we offer an after-school program specially developed to support the siblings of children on the autism spectrum. The program is run in a group which offers the opportunity for siblings to meet other kids with similar experiences. The program focuses on supporting the sibling to understand autism better, as well as learn strategies to enhance their own wellbeing and resilience.

CliniSibs is facilitated by experienced psychologists and is suitable for children between the ages of 7-12 years, and are still in primary school. The group is designed specifically for children who are developing typically, and who do not have any diagnosis. Some literacy competence is required for the activities.

The age range of the group is decided by the interest expressed by our clients, and we aim to have children in a similar age range attend together. This ensures that the delivery of the content is tailored to the focused age of the group, (eg. 7-8 or 9-10) and that the social relationships and experiences are more relatable.

The breakdown of the seven weeks is as follows:

  1. Parent-only information session.
  2. Getting to know ME!: Introduction to CliniSibs and develop an awareness about self and others.
  3. What is autism?: Develop an awareness of autism and confidence in identifying the sibling’s strengths and challenges, and communicating this to others.
  4. My sibling story: Understand and explore the experience of being a sibling to a child with autism.
  5. Understanding my feelings: Explore the range of feelings associated with being a sibling and the individual experience of these feelings.
  6. My big feelings: Understanding the purpose of our big feelings and identifying coping strategies.
  7. Looking after ME!: Identify opportunities to access support people and understand how they can enhance the sibling experience.
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