Having a sibling is a wonderful thing but as with most family relationships it is full of complexities. With siblings of individuals with additional needs there can be many extra challenges as well as positives.
This post will signpost to some resources and organisations providing support to siblings of disabled individuals.
A different home life
Having an autistic sibling will mean there may be some differences with home life when compared to peers. It is important that we recognize these differences.
Siblings help us learn all sorts of different skills. I know having a brother has helped both my boys to learn to share and wait! Having a disabled sibling can help an you to be more patient and caring. However it can also bring challenges:
- A sibling may get less attention from parents
- There may be restrictions on family activities
- They may have more responsibilities at home
- They can have more barriers impacting school work at home
- May experience prejudice and or bullying
Additional challenges and responsibilities can significantly impact stress levels. It is likely that individuals with disabled siblings will have more worries than their peers and can at times struggle with other emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment or anger. They may also have concerns about the future.
It is important that individuals receive recognition for support they provide to their families. The resources and organizations below can provide valuable support to siblings.
Resources to support siblings:
A great online booklet for Young Carers written by young carers with lots of information like ‘am I a carer’, dealing with bullies, looking after myself and carer stories.
A joint report from Family Fund and the University of Portsmouth – ‘Do Siblings Matter Too?’ revealing the impact a disabled brother of sister has on a child or young person.
Contact a Family – Siblings guide
Support providers for siblings
Sibs is a charity specifically for children and adults with a disabled brother or sister. They also provide training to professionals, schools and parents on providing support to siblings. – www.sibs.org.uk
YoungSibs is an online support and information service for children and young people with a disabled sibling.
A carer is someone who helps another with daily living activities. It can be hard to recognise ourselves as carers because it is your norm but anyone regularly caring for an individual can get help from your local carers centre’s including parent carers and young carers. Siblings can be supported by young carer projects and many groups also offer specific sibling support.
This might include days out, meet ups with other sibling / young carers. It is well worth talking to your local carers centre to see what is available.
Carer’s Trust – Find young carers services near you
Young Minds – young carers
Children’s Society – help for young people
Childline – support and advice for children