Welcome To Kaitlynn's Place

Kaitlynn was born September 29th, 2004. We have seen neurology specialists from St. Louis to New Orleans since she was born. Unfortunately, we still do not have a definitive diagnosis for Kaitlynn. The best guess her doctors have to offer is mitochondrial disease.

Sibling Adjustment to A Special Needs Child

9:19 AM Posted In , , , , Edit This 12 Comments »
It is often very difficult for the siblings of special needs children to cope with all that goes along with having a special needs child in the family. Special needs children require an extraordinary amount of attention, care, love, devotion, and share of the family income. This can create difficult and often conflicting feelings for the unaffected sibling such as: 

  • Fear of the special needs child dying.
  • Jealously, anger and or resentment that the special needs child gets a larger share of family resources and attention.
  • Anger over lack of attention or share of responsibility.
  • Anger over not being able to go places and do things because the special needs child can’t.
  • Embarrassment over the physical and mental differences of the special needs child.
  • Guilt over the above feelings.

Sibling rivalry isn’t uncommon, but when one child is labeled as “normal” and the other is “special,” it inherently creates feelings that are emotionally disruptive and detrimental to the family unit. Parents need to be astute on how the siblings are coping with having a special needs sibling.

Watch for the warning signs that your child might not be adapting and coping with having a special needs sibling:

  • Eating and sleeping changes.
  • Frequent medical complaints- stomach ache, headache, etc..
  • Hopeless feelings or comments.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Lack of self -esteem.
  • Depression or speaking of hurting themselves.
  • Loss of interest in activities or anger over inability to partake in activities.
  • Frequent bouts of crying or worrying.
  • Withdrawal from the family unit.
  • Speaking of or actually hurting the special needs child.
   
The last warning sign is very important. It is very easy for jealously, anger, and resentment to turn into violence, especially if the warning signs that the child isn’t coping well are ignored. Speaking with the family physician, seeking professional counseling, and joining  support groups can be very helpful. Support groups that involve the entire family can be a great outlet for siblings to talk with peers that also have a special needs child in the family. Everyday friends that don’t have a special needs child in the family often do not understand, much less relate, to the pressures and feelings of being a sibling to a special needs child.

Some great resources that may help siblings cope and express their feelings constructively, family adjustment, and parents are:

The Sibling Support Project.
The Winds of the Hurricane:  Siblings in the Storm of Illness, by Joan Fleitas.
SuperSibs!
Siblings for Significant Change
It Isn't Fair! Edited by Stanley D. Klein and Maxwell J. Schleifer
Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs: A Book for Siblings, by Donald Meyer and Patricia Vadasy.
When Madness Comes Home: Help and Hope for the Children, Siblings and Partners of the Mentally Ill, by Victoria Secunda.
Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up With a Brother or Sister With Special Needs, edited by Donald J. Meyer

I don’t want this post to seem all “negative.” Siblings of special needs children may often need help adjusting. However, studies have shown that kids that grow up feeling positive about their special needs sibling, are more likely to develop qualities like- patience, kindness, tolerance for differences ,  compassion, helpfulness,  empathy, dependability, loyalty, etc.. in adulthood.
    
                     
       
     

12 comments:

Chris Stonecipher said...

Jo,
I can only comment on having all children with disabilities. My son who has moderate autism doesn't see himself as "special" but everyone else around him that has a disability as "special". My oldest daughter was jealous of her middle sister when she was born and tried to pinch her. My son is very protective of his oldest sister which has the most profound disability in our home. He always asked why she needs medication and if she is going to die.

Uma Shankari said...

Your blog is very informative. Good compilation of info. Congratulations on producing such a useful resource for all those parents with Special Needs children.

Uma Shankari said...

Your blog is very informative. Good compilation of info. Congratulations on producing such a useful resource for all those parents with Special Needs children.

jo oliver said...

Thank you both for the comments:)

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