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Sibling of Children with Special Needs
Having a child with special needs affects all members of the family, including siblings. Siblings of children with special needs (“sibs”) are the lifelong companions of their brothers or sisters. It is normal for siblings to feel a wide range of emotions. It is not uncommon for sibs to strive for perfection or experience psychosomatic complaints. They may at times isolate themselves from peers or experience other social difficulties, often resulting from disruptions in routine. 

While this experience may pose challenges, it also provides many opportunities for emotional, social, and behavioral growth. Sibs also may demonstrate advanced problem solving skills, compassion, and flexibility. They may show pride and appreciation for others while showing generosity and empathy. Some sibs have also reported vocational perks from exposure to the healthcare and therapy world.

Siblings share many of their parents’ concerns and experiences regarding the child with special needs, including feelings of isolation, guilt, worries for the child’s (and their own) future, and need for information about the condition their brother or sister has. They may wonder what their role is with the sibling’s care now and what it will be in the future. They may also wonder what support services exist for themselves and their sibling. Yet, siblings often do not have the kind of support parents have available to them. Sibs need and want information about their brother or sister. They want to be valued for who they are and their achievements. They benefit from opportunities to interact with peers, that is, other children their age who also have a brother or sister with special health needs.

While most siblings of children with special needs demonstrate a special resilience, peer support can further enhance overall coping and adjustment.
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