Social media may have its flaws, however since i created this blog i am more aware of families and their struggle raising children where disability has to be accounted for.
Raising children is challenging enough. The difficulty level raises when you have to attempt to explain to your child that their sibling has a cognitive, physical medical disability or chronic and life threatening illness.
Siblings of children with disabilities are forced to become more mature, its sometimes difficult to explain that their brother or sister has additional needs or special requirements that have to be taken into account ahead of their own needs.
No two children are the same this difference is amplified when a sibling has multiple learning difficulties. This is currently something I am experiencing, Of course with us Sofiya is only 18 months old yet I find myself countless times a day explaining why Olivia can not hold & interact with the toy she has kindly thrown at her, waiting for a reaction. When she wants to sing songs or play “row row your boat” which can sometimes result in Olivia crying, not from anything other than surprise as why her arms and legs have suddenly started moving quite quickly. When Olivia becomes unsettled out of the blue, sofiya comes running to reassure her. Recently she has been trying to pick Olivia up and loves holding her like you would a baby.
I try my best to include Olivia but the reality is she doesn’t have as much energy as a toddler, shortly after eating she’s sleepy and as much as she loves playing she definitely prefers cuddle time. Olivia has her own terms and routines.
An article on cerebral palsy family network lists 5 ways on how to help a sibling understand your child’s cerebral palsy. I’m not sure who wrote the article but something they included has stuck with me since i came across it, i think i was 6 months pregnant at the time.
Children who grow up with a special needs sibling are often under more stress. They may feel guilty for being the “healthy” sibling and try to overcompensate by setting higher expectations for themselves. They worry about taking care of their special needs sibling when they get older. Some children don’t understand what the condition is and worry that they might catch it too. They may even feel jealous or resentful because they are not receiving mom and dad’s full attention at a time when they need it most.
There is also some great news!
According to the New York Langone Medical Center, growing up with a sibling with special needs has its benefits. These children tend to develop skills like problem-solving, flexibility, teamwork, and compassion. All of which are very important in the real-world.
Having a child with additional needs can be incredibly stressful on the whole family. Siblings can feel a whole bunch of emotions and feel short changed, but in the end its important to teach them that the love for their sibling will prevail above anything, but it also depends on how you the parent handle it and how well explained the situation is.
We’ve always incorporated Sofiya in Olivia’s daily routine, explaining (whether she understands or not) what we’re doing & getting her to help. I’m sure because of this they have a special bond that’s incredible to see.