Strategies To Enhance Communication Among Siblings

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Q: Hi Adrienne, I have 2 boys ages 4 and 5 ½, exactly 18 months apart. My younger son continually talks for my older son who has a difficult time expressing himself due to his ASD. What should I do? 

Asked by Linda M on August 3, 2019

A: Hi Linda, I thank you for bringing up this very important issue that parents have when faced with one child on the Autism Spectrum and a sibling that is “neurotypical”. I see this situation all the time in my practice. It is quite the challenge to parent effectively in a situation such as yours! The basic idea is that you want to enhance the communication skills of each of your children. You may want to use consistent positive reinforcement with both children that is individualized and tailored specifically to each child’s needs. I would definitely recommend a consult where we could discuss each of your child’s needs in greater detail.


Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence in my practice and one that I counsel parents about all the time, Linda. I recently was seeing a 6 year old boy with ASD who had about 25 single words and who used the augmentative device of an Ipad to enhance his verbal communication skills. His five year old brother had a hard time waiting his turn for his brother to get his words out and would continuously shout out what he thought his brother was trying to say. Using The Adrienne Process, I helped both parents develop a specific behavioral and cueing system for each child enhancing each child’s communication abilities. In about a month, both brothers were more effective communicators and the parents were overall much happier that there was greater harmony in the home.

Adrienne Murphy