Helping Brothers and Sisters of Children with Special Needs
One-on-One Attention and Love
Taking the time to talk and listen makes a real difference, but Meyer also recommends parents make it a point to spend one-on-one time with the siblings. “Let them know by words and deeds that you care about them as individuals,” he says. Go on a long walk together, get a manicure, or even take your child out of school for a day to spend some quality time with one another. This will illustrate how much you care and that you are willing to take time out just for them.
Parents can also learn to relate to their typically developing child’s situation by reading books about life as a sibling of someone with special needs. Meyer recommends Riding the Bus With My Sister: A True Life Journey, by Rachel Simon; The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family, by Paul and Judy Karasik; and Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability, by Mary McHugh. In addition, parents can also read Views From Our Shoes and The Sibling Slam Book: What It’s Really Like to Have a Brother or Sister With Special Needs, books both edited by Meyer and featuring first-person accounts from siblings who have “been there, done that.” DeRusha adds that even watching a movie like Freaky Friday will help parents see life from their children’s perspective.
Along those same lines, Meyer reminds parents that their “interpretation most heavily influences their kids’ interpretation.” If parents view their son or daughter’s disability or health condition as negative and burdensome, so will their other children. Parents should of course acknowledge the challenges but can also choose to take the positive route. “Accept that your child has special needs . . . In the end, you need to be at peace,” says DeRusha.
- To find a Sibshop near you, visit The Sibshops Directory.
- Or subscribe to the SibKids listserv.
- ARCH National Respite Network
- Sibling-Related Books and Movies
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