Being the sibling of a special needs child is not easy.
You often feel left out or that your the forgotten child due to all the attention
and focus that is put on the child with special needs.
This is something I have heard from a few friends recently about their other children. They said, as a parent of a child with special needs, your whole focus is on that child. Sometimes you miss or can not see what is clearly in front of you with the other children in the family. The number of times have they’ve been asked to wait when it comes to doing activities with them, how many times have they missed an event or after school playdate activity because of doctors appointments. Taking care of your special needs child is very important and does come first, but so do the other children.
It is so important that each child in your own family feels loved and valued. Communication, expressing of feelings, of their needs is very important in having not only a healthy family environment but also one that is balanced. As parents of special needs children, you go through what I believe is similar to a grieving process. It can also be the same for the other children in the family. Siblings need to be able to understand life with a brother or sister who has special needs will be a lifelong journey but that we and they can find the joy in the journey if we give and take, have a little faith and patience.
Here are some tips you can do as parents to make your other children feel valued and that they are just as loved and as special as anyone else, and that they don’t have to feel alone or isolated. I found these while reading an article on this very subject and found them to be very true but also things that maybe we need to be reminded off from time to time where our children are concerned.
1. The right to ones own life
2. Acknowledging concerns
3. Expectations for typically developing siblings
4. Expect typical behavior from typically developing siblings
5. Expectations for the family member with special needs
6. The right to a safe environment
7. Opportunities to meet peers
8. Opportunities to obtain information
9. Siblings concerns about the future
10. Include both Sons and Daughters
11. One on One time
13. Celebrate each child’s achievements and milestones
14. Parents perspective is more important than actual disability
15. Include siblings in definition of the family
16. Actively reach out to Brothers and Sisters
17. Learn more about life as a sibling
18. Join or create local programs for Brothers and Sisters
19. Include Brothers and Sisters on boards and policies in regards to the family
20. Fund services for Brothers and Sisters
All of these are things that can and should be done as in reality siblings will be the ones that are going to have the responsibility of taking over the role of caregivers when you as the parent are no longer able. Set things in motion and put things in place when they are young so that they grow up happy, healthy and knowing that you as the parent valued them so much as a sibling and have set policies and trusts in place so that they can be the best they can be as caregivers to their Brother or Sister.
To read the full article go to http://specialchildren.about.com/
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