I often tell my daughter that her brother is the best gift I ever gave her and I honestly mean this. Of course having an older sibling is also a gift. There are several reasons I believe having a sibling is a gift.
The first is that you have someone who shares many of the same life experiences. They know exactly what you mean when you refer to a funny family story. Plus, when you want your parents to change a rule, you have an ally, and if Mom and Dad seem unreasonable there is someone to agree with you.
Siblings are our first friends and they help us to learn valuable life skills. We learn negotiation skills and tolerance of differences by working to resolve disagreements that arise with our siblings. Working together to get something you both want also gives you team building skills.
People may think being the younger sibling of someone on the autism spectrum is hard. However, my son and I both know that the hardest part of our lives has never been related to his sister’s diagnosis. The hardest part has all been related to the bullying.
This made my son much more aware of bullying issues than many of his peers. He talks to me about things that happen at school because he knows he can trust me to try to help him resolve issues. He knows keeping quiet or allowing someone to get away with abusing someone is wrong. He still has trouble with not wanting to “tattle,” but he does realize the value of the bystander and that “reporting,” people who harm others is important. These are all things he learned from having a sibling.
The value of siblings does not end after you are grown either. I am grateful for my brothers still. Two of them were there for our parents when I was far away. The third was also far away; therefore, I have someone who understands how hard being away from home was as my parents aged. My husband and I have implemented plans to try to diminish the burden on our children as we age. Still, I think they will be grateful for each other when the time comes for them to take on the responsibility of making hard adult decisions.