Supporting the Siblings of People with Disabilities

Mar 01, 2011
Tagged with:

I am quite blessed to have a fairly large, close-knit family. On my dad’s side of the family, in particular, we are in another growing phase, a time when many of my cousins are having children. My one cousin is a part of that trend and has two young boys, one who is five-years-old (Matthew) and one who is ten-months-old (Andrew).

When he was 3-months-old, Andrew was diagnosed with lissencephaly. Since then, he has been in and out of the hospital, started regular therapy with several different specialists, traveled across the country to see well-known doctors, and much more. There is so much learning to be done about Andrew, his condition, and his care (What medications work best for him? Who are the best specialists for him? What is the best routine for him? What are things that need to be planned for in the future?….etc, etc…)….and all of that requires a lot of time and attention from his parents.

Often, parents already have concerns about being able to share their attention with more than one child, particularly when both are young. These added pieces that come into play when a child is born with a disability can create even more concern about the sibling(s) receiving the love and attention that they need.

Matthew’s parents have been very aware of his needs as the sibling of a child with a disability all along, and I have learned so much from how they are trying to do everything they can for both of their children. They actively engage in conversations with Matthew about his brother, involve him in Andrew’s therapy and medical treatment, bring in specialists to help Matthew express his emotions, attend seminars about siblings of children with disabilities, and do everything else they can to make sure that Matthew knows he is supported and loved.

As I listened to his parents talk about it all this past weekend at a family gathering, I started wondering about the resources that are out there to help provide support for siblings of children who have disabilities. I came across two organizations in particular that seem to be doing some really great things. A brief description of each is provided below. Although the second is specific to cancer, I thought it was too related and too good to go without mention.

  • SuperSibs! (http://www.supersibs.org/): “SuperSibs! is dedicated to ensuring ongoing comfort, recognition and support to children with brothers and sisters who have cancer. SuperSibs! helps these siblings to redefine the cancer experience to use these life lessons for strength, courage and hope as they move into the future.”

I’m sure there is much more out there – and would love for you to share resources that you know about or have used in the comments section! Thanks!

Author: Carolyn