Over the school holidays Sally Tarrant, Katy McEvoy and Elizabeth Dorn from the Aspect Hunter School Learning Support Team ran a sibling group for the brothers and sisters of Hunter School students.
The idea was inspired by our school's parents. They were seeking opportunities for their kids to meet other children who also have a sibling with autism and engage in some positive activities that were just for them. As therapists we know how important a support network is, and the main focus of the group was social connection. This also gave us a chance to show them their sibling’s classroom, playground and the other places they spend their school week.
The first week’s focus was on the participant’s world. Who was in it? What hobbies did they engage in? What are their favourite things (people, food, places)? The second week’s focus was about dreams. What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you want to travel? What holiday do you want to go on?
Their favourite things were dodgeball, playing on the playground and meeting new friends; one even said “I loved everything!” Parents loved the idea, some saying they’ve been seeking a group like this for years. They all felt it was important for their child to meet other siblings of Aspect students, and learn more about their brother or sister.
We learned so much from this group and we have so many ideas for how to improve it. In the future we hope to not only hold this sibling group again but also have groups running concurrently for parents and Aspect students to help build stronger social connections among Aspect Families.
It’s important for siblings to develop their own sense of identity, relationships and connections, and supporting the whole family is something we all feel passionately about.