School Programs

Younger Siblings (7-12)

The primary focus of younger sibling engagement will be on creating opportunities to meet and commune with fellow siblings. Facilitated by school counselors and older sibling volunteers, these groups will provide younger siblings of people with ASD/DD a safe space to meet peers and mentors, discuss experiences, and receive information and tools.

Adolescent and Teenage Siblings (12-18)

Engagement with adolescent and teenage siblings will build off of the social group framework offered to younger siblings. Additionally, siblings in this age range will be provided with additional means for sibling engagement.

Youth Engagement and Education

Providing support to the sibling of someone with ASD/DD at a young age can be crucial in improving the chances that the person remains engaged and active in their sibling’s life in later years. Referencing the 2003 study cited earlier, “the relationships between children and their siblings with ASD are still generally positive at this age (7-11) but begin to change over time such that older children report less satisfaction with these relationships.” To that end, the goal of SibStrong’s younger sibling engagement will be to help normalize the relationship for younger siblings in the hopes of maintaining and if need be strengthening sibling relationship satisfaction.

To achieve this, SibStrong will seek to build programs primarily through partnerships with schools, school districts and parent associations (PTAs). In addition to in-school sibling support, SibStrong will work to provide programming related to ASD/DD that will seek to further inclusion and acceptance. Schools are seen as the key venue to deliver support to younger siblings. A school-based approach will allow siblings of people with ASD/DD to form a community with peers they interact with on a day-to-day basis and can serve as driver of inclusion for their brother and sisters with disabilities. Additionally, working with schools will ensure that siblings and families who may not have the means or awareness of broader disability support networks in their communities will be included. The nature of programs will differ depending on the age of the participants involved. This is a great need in the K-12 education system.

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