How to support siblings of children with additional needs
This is a brilliant blog post by Phoebe on the challenges siblings of children with additional needs go through. Read and share this with others:
“She ruins everything!” I said to my mom when I was six and my big sister bumped into an art project I’d been working on all day.
And again when I was twelve and she wanted to hang out with me and my friends at my slumber party.
And again when I was seventeen and she snuck upstairs when I was watching a movie with a boyfriend.
Being fourteen months younger than my sister with Down syndrome wasn’t always easy. We were a grade apart in school, in a town where everyone knew everyone else. I was occasionally referred to as “Syble’s sister” instead of by my own name. When people made jokes about the kids on the short bus or “retards” I had to decide if I was going to stand up for my sister and bring more attention to myself or just let it go. And even at home, I tried to be perfect and low maintenance to make up for the extra work and attention my parents had to put into her.
And that’s why when I look into the eyes of my son David after he’s just said “He ruins everything!” referring to his brother with autism, I get it. I so get it. I get the frustration and the fear. I get the exhaustion and the embarrassment. I relive the moments I had at each stage I went through as a special-needs sibling. And it’s because of that experience I try to remember a few things.
Go read Phoebe’s blog for her advice on what she tries to do for her son, it includes:
- I don’t shame my typical son for the way he is feeling in the moment.
- I remind him our feelings can lie to us.
- I celebrate the accomplishments of both boys.
- I give him opportunities to grow in areas of interest.
- I make sure we have one-on-one time together.
- I say thank you every day.