Support Siblings In Special Needs Families Brilliantly
8th October 2021
When we talk about special needs children, things that usually attract our attention are – children themselves, parents and teaching professionals. Unfortunately, siblings of special needs children sometimes feel overlooked frequently.
Siblings struggle as well and are in need of emotional support. It’s significant for parents to be conscious of the challenges faced by siblings in families with special needs children as some sibling/s may feel their time in the family is completely overlooked by supporting their special needs brother/sister.
Special needs siblings may feel the following:
- Humiliation about a sibling’s behavior in front of friends
- Frustration that the sibling may not be able to relate or play at the same level
- Worries about the health and survival of the sibling
We are certain there are more situations, however, these are the major ones!
Nevertheless, there are also numerous benefits and unique experiences for siblings of special needs children. We can observe a sense of protectiveness of the sibling. Special needs siblings may also feel social proficiency.
Supporting Siblings of Children with Special Needs
Here are some helpful suggestions -
As a parent, it’s necessary to acknowledge siblings’ complex emotions. Talk openly with your kids about the challenges of having a sibling with special needs. Siblings also experience an array of complex emotions, which they may be unwilling to discuss with a parent or a teacher.
Some siblings may not completely understand what is happening with their brother or sister. Thus, it’s important to let them know that their feelings are completely normal and it’s okay to talk about it with you… even the negative ones. Acknowledge their anxieties when they share them with you and give comfort when probable.
Create A Safe Environment
Sometimes, we can see that some families, brothers and sisters live with a sibling who has extreme behavior difficulties. This might cause stress and fear in some siblings. Therefore, make sure that children with and without special needs are secured. Ensure that no child is in a vulnerable situation. The personal safety of siblings should always be given as much attention as the support of their brother or sister.
Provide One-on-one Time with Siblings
It is important for the siblings of children with special needs to know that the adults in their lives do care about them. As a parent, give equal time to your kids. Set aside time for each child. However, sometimes, it may not be equal, but it has to be expressive and consistent. If you’re an educator, take time out for supportive, one-on-one talks with siblings of kids with various special needs. Let your children know that you’re there for them, that they’re significant, and that you care about their interests too.
Solve Problems Together
Collective problem-solving is a good way to work through siblings of kids with various special needs. Also, it’s vital to recognise your kid’s emotions before you try to resolve problems. If you see your children struggling, give them time to calm down.
Depending on how old your kid is, he/she might need more or less assistance to understand the feelings and come up with solutions. Here, the whole family can work together, if you want you can take the help of professionals who work with your child.
Discuss the Special Need
Talk about the special need of your child openly. Let your child know what’s probable to happen to his/her sibling while being positive and realistic. You can also encourage your child to take part in his/her sibling’s therapy activities…sometimes! This will also help your child to understand his/her sibling’s special needs.
Additionally, you can also discuss with your child how other people might react to his/her brother or sister. Let your child know it’s absolutely OK to feel sad if people say upsetting things. Also, you can involve siblings in the educational team actively.
As a parent you can do a lot of things to support your children:
- Creating solid plans for the future of your children with special needs
- Listening thoughtfully to sibling’s contributions and suggestions
- Evolving backup plans if Plan A doesn’t work
- Accepting that siblings’ convenience may change over time
It has been seen that children who have siblings with special needs have a level of compassion, they are patient and positive and empathetic. Above all, try to keep in mind that self-determination is important, counting brothers and sisters.
The special child teaching course will help you to understand how can you do all these things in a better way. Show that you value and celebrate siblings, too. Alternatively, if you’re worried about any of your children, it might be of help to hire a special needs professional.
Written By : Ruchi Mehta