It Can Be Difficult to Have a Sibling with a Disability
In my last blog post, I wrote about the extraordinary time and effort it can take to support a child with a disability. So then what happens to the siblings in these families? Often children who have a sibling with a disability can feel that parents are not dividing their attention equally. While it is probably true sometimes that the child with the disability gets “more time,” there are strategies parents can implement to be sure that each child feels she’s getting what she needs.
- When a child has a concern about time and attention, listen and show empathy and understanding. Understand that young children sometimes act out to signal a want or need for more attention.
- Communicate openly with your children. Discuss that yes, sometimes Bobby gets more attention during homework time; this is because he has a learning disability that makes reading very difficult for him.
- Provide opportunities for your children to each have their own areas of interests, so they feel they have something special.
- Be sure to genuinely praise your children for their accomplishments, even if it something that comes naturally to them. Every child likes to hear positive messages when something goes well.
- Find time for each child. Take your children on “dates.” Maybe one week dad takes one child out for dinner and then the other child the next week. After that, it can be mom’s turn for dates. Children love to have alone time with parents.
- Have fun as a family. Have movie nights or game nights so that the whole family builds a strong relationship together.
While it may be true that caring for a child with a disability takes additional time that a typically developing child may not require, there are strategies that a parent can put in place to be sure that every child in the family feels unique and loved.
Blogger Stephanie Dunne, Ed.S., is the Center Director at Springer School and Center. Prior to coming to Springer, Stephanie practiced as a school psychologist in public and private schools for ten years. If you have questions, please contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.