Through our Family-Centered Autism Program (FCAP), Touchstone Health Services offers a therapy group directly for siblings of brothers and sisters with special needs. The Au-Some Sibling Group has a focus centered on supporting siblings who face unique challenges as an individual and as an individual of a sibling with developmental needs. Au-Some Siblings promotes siblings the experience to connect with one another through shared experiences. As a member of this group, siblings receive a sense of belonging. Siblings are able to participate in a group where they not only learn more about their siblings but more about themselves. Siblings of special needs may often feel, due to the demand of care provided to their sibling, that they come second. Au-Some Siblings wants siblings to know that their needs matter too by providing an experience that is all about them. Although there is a discussion of sibling relationships and developmental needs, siblings also engage in fun activities for their wellbeing. Siblings learn to express their feelings and develop greater awareness of feelings and coping tools through the peer support within the group. This sibling group aims to build strength and opportunity for siblings to gain a voice and express themselves through communication.

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How does the Autism sibling group therapy work?

Siblings arrive at Au-Some Sibling Group and are signed-in by parents at the time of drop-off. Our group then transitions into an introductory activity that establishes positive greetings and social interactions. Following introductions, siblings are led into a variety of low-energy and high-energy activities. Snack and lunch breaks are also provided.

During low-energy activities, siblings are presented with discussions and activities that allow them to explore their feelings and connect with others in the group. Low-energy activities may include art, reflection, and discussion for an increased awareness of sibling relationships and autism spectrum disorders. High-energy activities support expression through movement. These activities include a variety of team building exercises and fun games focusing on siblings while also releasing them from any responsibilities outside of this sibling focus group. Through activity, sibling’s feelings are acknowledged, isolation is decreased, and knowledge to cope and understand siblings disability is learned.

Who can attend Au-some Siblings Group Therapy?

Any sibling ages 5 and up, of a brother or sister with special needs. Au-Some Sibs welcomes siblings, step-siblings, half-siblings, and any other family dynamic appropriate, according to the aim of the group.

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Benefits of attending Au-Some Siblings include:

  1. Enables siblings to engage in fun activities while connecting with others who share similar life experiences.
  2. Increases emotional awareness through an expression of feelings and learning how to cope with these feelings.
  3. having feelings validated by others who “just get it.”
  4. Improvement of the sibling relationship.
  5. Increased understanding about sibling’s developmental needs.
  6. Using learned skills to interact with a sibling and communicate with family about a sibling.

What have siblings said about Au-Some Sibs?

During reflection activity at the end of session, siblings were asked to write what they learned and/or liked about group)

“I learned that we all feel emotions. I liked the activities.”

“I liked that we had pizza and snack time. I learned about what autism means.”

“I learned about autism and what people like about their brothers and sisters.”

“One thing that was fun, I made friends and had fun.”

“I liked the activities.”

“I learned about what autism is and how autism is formed.”

“The interactions I had with the kids.”

“I liked the games and the pizza.”

“I liked the food and drinks, thank you.”

“It was great!”

“Autistic kids are sometimes sensory.”

“What I liked about the group was when we got to make a jar.”

How to participate:

Families will receive notification of calendar dates hosting Au-Some Siblings. Sibling group is held on a Saturday from 10am-1pm. Families must submit group form by a determined deadline to reserve a spot for sibling participation. To be added to the email list to receive notifications on the Sibling Group, please email communications@touchstonebh.org.