Your relationship with your sibling is probably part of your earliest memories. Siblings rely on each other for support, share secrets that they do not feel comfortable telling others, and provide a playmate and mentor for one another. The impact a sibling relationship has on one’s life does not change when your sibling has Autism Spectrum Disorder; however, it can come with more pieces to navigate and understand from a young age.
Siblings often play a supportive role, and can become a secondary caregiver to their siblings, yet there are no programs available just for them. “It’s like (siblings get) caregiver burnout,” explained Anna Goodings Autism Services Manager at ConnectWell. “Most family support services focus on the parent/ guardian and the role of the sibling has been mostly untouched.” According to the Sibshop Support Project, sibling relationships can last upwards of 65 years. This is why ConnectWell Community Health feels there is a vital need to support and educate the siblings of individuals with Autism, as well as their parents.
Autism Services of ConnectWell Community Health are providing this opportunity of support and education to the families of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville through a certified Sibshop program. This research based sibling support group hosts its first meeting in January 2023. Sibshop is a program utilized across the Globe to provide siblings a chance to play fun and interactive games, obtain peer support from those who get it in a way others may not be able to, while also working to developing a better understanding of the gifts their sibling with autism may have. This group focuses on providing a safe and fun environment for siblings to recognize they are not alone in their experiences, and to help foster healthy, long-lasting relationships with siblings through education.
ConnectWell Community Health’s Sibshop program, along with several others, is being offered FREE of charge to families registered with the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). Even if not registered with the OAP, families are encouraged to contact ConnectWell Community Health to learn more about the many programs that the Autism Services team provides. Programs that may benefit not only the individual with Autism but also their family.
For more information on Sibshop contact: Jenny Smith [email protected], 613-213-0618