Supporting Siblings

What We Wished You Knew About Our Sibs with Special Needs

posted May 26, 2013, 12:03 PM by Elizabeth Batson

This entry comes from a conversation with the kids from the Parent Helping Parents March 2013 Sibshop. 

We all have brothers or sisters with special needs. As a group, we made this list of things that we wished people knew about our situation.
1.     Don’t judge, try to understand 
  •  A person can look normal and still have special needs. 
  •  My sib isn’t causing problems or acting weird on purpose. There are reasons for the way they are acting 
          -       He can’t control his behavior
          -       Sometimes things are just too much and then he melts down 
          -       She wants to be friends but others can’t always tell 
          -       Sometimes they just don’t understand
          -       She is doing the best she can even if it doesn’t look like it 
          -       He is not trying to be mean, he really is nice instead 
  • Don’t judge me based on my sib’s behavior. I’m not the same just because I’m related 

 2.     Show good manners – sometimes people act mean 
  •  Don’t stare - it’s not polite
  •  Don’t call names 
  • Don’t gossip 

 3.     We get tired of people asking the same questions.
  • Watch what you say. Don’t ask obvious questions. Even when people are trying to be nice, we get tired of them. 
  • I like to act as if my family is normal. Asking questions just reminds me that we aren’t 
 4.     We wish people could be warned about what to expect (without us having to tell them). 
  • Sometimes sibs really want certain things. It may seem odd but we do it her way to keep the peace. 
  • Many of us have sibs who don’t handle frustration well. It is often easier to just give him what he wants, even if it isn’t fair.Some of us have sibs that can be dangerous – yelling or kicking. 

 5.     The most important thing for people to know: Disabilities, syndromes, and odd behavior are not bad, just different. Having differences is good. We wish we could tell the world, “You don’t get it – different is OK!”

The Sibling Support Project

posted May 14, 2011, 12:07 AM by Elizabeth Batson

The Sibling Support Project is "a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns." Their website offers a rich collection of resources on the sibling experience. They also support a national network of SibShops - support groups for siblings of children with special needs.

The Sibling Support Project also hosts SibParent, a listserv for parents that lets them focus on their normally developing children. 

In Santa Clara County, there is a monthly SibShop sponsored by Parents Helping Parents.

Books on Supporting Siblings of Children with Special Needs

posted May 6, 2011, 10:19 PM by Elizabeth Batson   [ updated May 14, 2011, 12:38 AM ]

Here is a short annotated bibliography of books that help both parents and siblings deal with the impact of a child with special needs on his or her brothers and sisters.

Supporting Your Other Children

posted Apr 20, 2011, 5:27 PM by Elizabeth Batson   [ updated May 14, 2011, 12:40 AM ]

 I Have Needs Too! Supporting the Child Whose Sibling Has Special Needs is a book written to help parents understand the concerns of the other children in your family and provides practical suggestions on how to help.

Learning to Let Go When Your Child Has Special Needs

posted Apr 20, 2011, 5:12 PM by Elizabeth Batson   [ updated May 17, 2011, 3:11 PM ]

Supporting our children's independence as they turn into adults is a challenge for most parents. It is even harder when your child has special needs or a disability. We want to let go, to let them take on as much adult responsibilities as they can handle but the their timing will be different and for some, will never reach full independence.

This is a nice essay which captures the need to accept your child as an independent adult while still offering love and support. I don't agree with everything the author says but it is thought provoking.

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