Helping Siblings Adjust to Special Needs

This article, entitled "Helping Siblings Adjust to Special Needs," comes from Cathy at bountifulplate.

When there is a child in the family that has special needs, the entire family is affected. This can sometimes be difficult or challenging for other siblings in the family.

When a new little brother or sister joins the family that has special needs, there are bound to be adjustments among all the family members, especially for the siblings that already have an established “position” in the family. Below are some tips to help the siblings that have a brother or sister with special needs feel that they are also “special” and loved:

  • Give one-on-one time to your child for at least 15 minutes a day to keep lines of communication open.
  • Encourage your child to make friends outside the world of “special needs.”
  • Have a meeting with all members of the family regularly to discuss any issues or feelings (positive or negative). All family members should be able to speak freely without judgment or criticism.
  • There are online support groups for siblings who have a brother or sister with special needs. It may bring them comfort knowing there are others out there like them and that they are not alone.
  • Make sure to celebrate each achievement and milestone as much as you would for your child with special needs.
  • If there is an important event (like a preschool, elementary, middle school or high school graduation), look for respite care or a specially trained babysitter for your special needs child way in advance, so you will be able to attend the event.
  • If your child has questions or is worried about their special needs sibling and their future, don’t dismiss their concerns or feelings, acknowledge them.
  • Be careful not to overburden your older children with too much responsibility in helping to care for their sibling with special needs.
  • If your child wants to attend speech, physical, occupational therapy (or any other type of therapy) with their special needs sibling, make sure they always feel welcome>.

To read more from Cathy, visit

About the Author...
Cathy B
Cathy is a homemaker, wife and mother to a son with special needs, an adult daughter and stepmom to an adult son.
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