Siblings of kids with special needs often face their own set of challenges. But when the needs of their brothers or sisters are urgent and possibly life-threatening, these siblings sometimes suppress their own needs, feel guilty or become resentful.
Sibling Confession: Ranit Mishori
Dr. Ranit Mishori, a family practitioner here in Washington and member of the faculty at Georgetown University School of Medicine, penned an Washington Post article about her struggles as the sibling of a brother with severe autism. She very honestly wrote about locking her brother in his bedroom so her date who was picking her up wouldn’t see him. She listed several challenges siblings face:
- Missing out on typical family outings
- Being embarrassed to bring friends home
- Being the focus or cause of tantrums and outbursts
- Being expected to grow up quickly and be responsible
- Feeling second in importance to parents, because their time and energy is focused on the child with special needs
The article is quite extensive and informative and worth checking it out at Autism can have large effects, good and bad, on a disabled child’s siblings.
Siblings with Special Needs Conversation: Talk of the Nation
The article must have piqued the interest of the talk show planners at National Public Radio. Dr. Mishori was a guest of Neal Conan, host of Talk of the Nation, during the September 25, 2012 broadcast called Siblings with Special Needs Change Childhood. Several guests called in to share their experiences and emotions as the siblings of children with special needs. About halfway through the show, guest Don Meyer, the founder of Sibshops, joined the conversation. Sibshops is a national organization that trains volunteers to run local workshops that support siblings with kids with special needs.
The conversation covered more ground than can be summarized here, so you might want to listen to the story or read the transcript of Siblings with Special Needs Change Childhood at NPR.
Sibling Challenges: What Are You Dealing With?
What kinds of challenges are the siblings of kids with special needs facing at your house? How are you dealing with them? What kind of help do you need? What resources have you found useful? Leave a comment so we can work together to meet the needs of all our children.
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