Family Health and Wellbeing

Loving someone who lives life on the autism spectrum will bring positive changes and potential challenges to your family life.However, with intentional planning and some flexibility, families can navigate their way to making a family life that works for them as individuals and as a family unit.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, and extended family may all need information and support at different times and in different ways while they help their loved one with ASD thrive.

Purpose of this section

The purpose of this section of the website is to provide information and resources for you and the members of your family as you navigate your way on your family’s autism journey.  

Parents and Primary Caregivers

Parenting can be joyful, challenging, confusing, and rewarding – and sometimes all in the same moment!  Parenting a child who has autism is no exception. 

Caregiving for a loved one on the autism spectrum can present a unique set of experiences and demands.  Often, these demands require parents to learn new skills and creatively problem-solve a wide variety of situations.  Personal and financial resources may become strained as a parent tries to balance the needs of the entire household.  This can create significant stressors for caregivers as they try to meet their own needs, the needs of their family unit, and the needs of their loved one who has autism. 

Siblings

Sisters and Brothers

Sisters and brothers play an important role in the family as they are often the longest-lasting relationship in most people’s lives.  Siblings can provide social play and companionship, connection, positivity and sometimes conflict.   Sibling relationships are unique and vary from person to person. 

As siblings grow older, they can be called upon to become their brother or sister’s primary caretaker and advocate.  It is important that siblings receive recognition, information and support throughout the course of their relationship with their sibling with ASD.

 

Support Group for Siblings

SibShops is an international, award-winning program that invites brothers and sisters of children with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities or mental health concerns to come and participate in recreational activities that provide education and peer support.  

  • SoonerSuccess coordinates SibShops throughout the state of Oklahoma.  To find a SibShop near you, visit the Sooner Success website or call (405) 271-5700, x47801.   
     
  • Pervasive Parenting also offers a SibShop program in eastern Oklahoma.  To learn more about Pervasive Parenting’s SibShop, please visit their website at http://www.pervasiveparentingcenter.org/sibshop.html or call (918) 647-1255.  


Ready-to-Use Resources

Visit these websites to find ready-to-use resources to help support the siblings of a person with autism in your life. 

•    Autism, My Sibling, and Me, a free guide to download by the Organization for Autism Research
•    Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens, a free guide to download by the Organization for Autism Research
•    Brothers, Sisters, and Autism: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Siblings, a free guide to download by the Organization for Autism Research
•    A Sibling’s Guide to Autism, a free guide to download from Autism Speaks

 

Grandparents

Grandparents

Grandparents have an important role in family life.  A grandparent can be a source of unconditional love for a grandchild and provide a safe place for their grandchild to be themselves.   Grandparents can also offer love, support, and occasionally respite for their grandchild’s caregiver(s). 

Grandparents also deserve to have information and support.  Here are a few resources to help grandparents better understand and prepare for supporting their family members as they navigate life with a loved one on the autism spectrum.

Support Groups for Grandparents

•    Autism Oklahoma offers groups called Connection Circles that help create points of connection for persons with autism, their families and friends, autism service providers/organizations, and members of the community.  Please visit our Support Groups page to see if there is an Autism Oklahoma Connection Circle near you.  

•    Grandparents of Special Needs Kids (GSKN) is an online private Facebook group for grandparents of grandchildren with a wide variety of special needs.  It is hosted by The Sibling Support Project (www.siblingsupport.org), a national organization that provides support for brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and mental health needs.   To learn more about Grandparents of Special Needs Kids (GKSN), please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/GrandparentsOfKidsWithSpecialNeeds/   

Ready-to-Use Resources

Visit these websites to find ready-to-use resources to help you support your son/daughter and their family while they navigate their loved one’s autism journey.

•    A Grandparents Guide to Autism, a free guide to download from Autism Speaks
•    Grandparenting a Child with Autism:  How to be a Supportive Grandparent, a video by Dr. Mary Barbera
•    Autism and Grandparents: What You Can Do for your Grandchild with Autism, an audio podcast by Dr. Mary Barbera