On our Special Needs Book Review site we reviewed one of the four books Trish Thorpe has written titled Autism Spectrum Disorder SIBLING SUPPORT: 15 Practical Tips for Parents and Caregivers. For her Amazon.com book information, Trish Thorpe wrote, “There is perhaps no group in our society who is impacted more and recognized less than the siblings of disabled people. It’s time to highlight their needs. This handbook does just that. Updated annually, it provides parents and caregivers with insight and practical strategies for supporting the siblings of special-needs children.
By collaborating with a professional psychologist, the author was able to leverage the insight she learned from years of counseling about her lifelong relationship with her own Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) brother. The success of the collaboration is evident here — you’ll find a non-clinical yet spot-on understanding of special-needs sibling dynamics.
Short and to the point, the book starts by explaining the term “glass children” (i.e., the neurotypical, “see-through” child in the sibling relationship). Next you’ll find step-by-step suggestions (15 tips) for helping ASD siblings deal with day-to-day challenges such as understanding lopsided household rules, feeling loved and respected as an individual outside of their role as an ASD sibling, and comprehending the unique advantages of living in a special-needs family. This is an important resource for anyone wanting to understand and support ASD siblings.
(This handbook was updated in 2016 to include DSM-5 information.)”
See the links at the end of this post to our interview with Ms. Thorpe and to a guest post about her book on ASD sibling support.
Trish Thorpe also agreed to write the following guest post introducing her book on ASD sibling support.
Guest Post by Trish Thorpe
Autism Spectrum Disorder SIBLING SUPPORT: 15 Practical Tips for Parents and Caregivers
The world of the autistic child changes in an instant, and the professional psychology community makes decisions based on that ever-changing world. In an effort to stay current with the latest thinking, I updated my ASD sibling support handbook. My goal when I set out to update my book was to blend the latest discoveries from professional psychologists with my own experiences growing up as an ASD sibling.
The latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) now categorizes Asperger’s Syndrome as part of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), instead of as a separate impairment. I wanted to make sure that the content of my handbook addressed that change.
While doing research, I learned a new term that I wanted to share: “glass children.” To me, “glass children” is a wonderful visual that can be used to illustrate the see-through existence of the special-needs sibling. I used it throughout my book to call attention to that plight. I learned the term from a TED talk by Alicia Arenas.
Also, I added a short story called “Spencer’s GIFT.” I recently re-read “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and it reminded me of the challenges of gift-giving. I wanted to write a story that illustrated that same kind of challenge from an ASD sibling’s perspective.
What hasn’t changed is my passion for raising awareness of the difficulties of the ASD sibling. My eagerness to share what I learned from my own experience remains steadfast.
Excerpt from Autism Spectrum Disorder Sibling Support Handbook:
Here is a sampling of the tips that I provide in my book that are based on professional research as well as my own experience as an ASD sibling:
TIP #8. Create Personal Space
Your ASD sibling needs to feel entitled to their own belongings and their own private place in the world. This will hopefully reinforce the notion that they are a complete person separate from their role as an ASD sibling.
Find a spot in your home that they can call their own. It doesn’t have to be big. It can even be as simple as a shelf or a drawer. Just something that is solely theirs. Make sure that both your ASD sibling and your ASD child understand the boundaries.
TIP #12. Share a Secret Code
Make it clear that they can come to you with questions and concerns at any time. Take time out to tell them that you’re always willing and available to talk.
Strategize a signal together that can be used to alert each other that something’s wrong when others are in the room. It could be either a specific word or gesture, just so that you use it specifically for these situations. Sharing a “secret code” together will re-confirm to them that they’re not alone.
I do understand that creating a balanced household in a special-needs situation is not easy. In my mind, it’s vitally important to consider the needs and feelings of neurotypical siblings while maintaining that balance.
Trish Thorpe was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in English, and worked in Silicon Valley IT communications. She now lives and writes in Santa Cruz, California. “Fisheye” is her nickname.
Follow Trish Thorpe:
Trish is the author of four books:
- Fisheye: A Memoir, Oct. 2, 2012
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Sibling Support, Dec 28, 2013 (Updated yearly)
- Pink Tea Leaves: Collected Insights from a Breast Cancer Odyssey, Oct. 26, 2013
- “Lucky” Dog: Life with A Wild, Lovable Labrador, Oct. 17, 2013
Buy Trish Thorpe’s Books:
Autism Spectrum Disorder SIBLING SUPPORT: 15 Practical Tips for Parents and Caregivers Updated 2016 Amazon.com