Five Ways to Support Siblings in Special Needs Families

September 6, 2023
Five Ways to Support Siblings in Special Needs Families

Having a child with special needs can be challenging and sometimes, can consume a lot of time and attention from other children within the family. Siblings of children with autism can look at the ongoing situation differently. Some siblings are proud, helpful, and hands-on. Others may feel resentment, confusion, and anxiety. Here are five ways to ensure that all the children in your family are appreciated and validated for all of their efforts!

  1. Talk openly about the situation- It can be essential for parents to explain what is going on with siblings and to answer questions that arise. Some children may not fully understand what is going on with their brother or sister and this could cause a snowball effect of emotions. Listen to their concerns and reassure the love you have for the sibling. 
  2. Spread the support- Support and encouragement are necessary for a child with a disability. Siblings may feel that their achievements are being overlooked. Find time to give both children that positive reinforcement.
  3. Set aside time for each child- The more time given to a child with special needs, could take away time from the other children in the household. This can be very challenging to fit into busy schedules, but any amount of time to give, will make your child feel just as important. Fun ideas could include: movie dates, coloring, playing with toys, or dinner dates with just you and the sibling. 
  4. Try to treat all children the same- Life for the child with special needs and the siblings can look VERY different. It is important to maintain consistency.
  5. Positivity- Growing up with a special needs sibling can teach valuable lessons and skills. For instance, some children have more compassion, patience, and empathy!

We hope these tips will give parents insight on how to handle multiple children within the household and the confidence to share joy!