The Sibling Experience: What Parents Need to Know

By Janet Thibeau, Massachusetts Sibling Support Network

What’s it like to be a sibling who has a brother or sister with a disability? The good news is many develop into happy, compassionate, and insightful individuals. However, it can be difficult for a parent to know and anticipate all of the challenges involved in supporting their children who have brothers or sisters with disabilities. At times, siblings may feel confused, angry, and disconnected from their families.

How you respond to your child’s disability will directly influence how your other children respond. Supporting siblings helps them grow into well-adjusted individuals, develop strong family and community ties, and have the skills to become an advocate for themselves and their brothers and sisters. Often parents have a vision for each family membe’s role. At times, the role a parent has defined for a sibling is not the role that sibling wants to take. It’s important to recognize siblings need a voice within their family.

Here are some ideas for parents to support their children who have brothers and sisters with disabilities.

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