Being Sibling of a Child With Special Needs

Being Sibling of a Child With Special Needs

             Being a sibling of a child with special needs is a reality many child are born into. It is a fact that children who have a sibling with special needs also have " different" experiences throughout their lives. 

             Different means lots of ups and downs. With the joining of special sibling into the family, there are positive and negative effects. in this article i would like to summarise especially negative points. Certainly - as i like to mention - every child is unique and best way is to discuss this situation subjectively with each sibling.


1 )  Siblings may feel " anger ,guilt ,shame ,sorrow ,jealousy....

            Unhappily, in general most of the children in early ages prefer to show their feelings with their behaviors instead of expressing them verbally . Imagine the case ... Parents struggle with health problems of special needed child ,have worries about moment and future, have lots of social roles mom ,dad ,wife ,husband , worker...A very hard combination. Then typically developing sibling's behaviors begin to change to have more attention ... A new war front .

2 ) Siblings may feel  like " must be perfect " 

             Sibling with special needs grow up knowing how their parents give huge effort to ensure all siblings all kind of needs . Many of them feel " i must be perfect, i dont have a right to make mistake, i have to be succesful in every step"  However this is nearly impossible and knowing " impossibility " creates  unbearable stress to dial with. 

3 ) Siblings may feel that " they shouldn't express most feelings " 

              Many siblings says that " my all friends complain about their typically developing siblings, but i cant . I feel my friends will think that i am mean" or " I know my parents are so sad about future, me too. I think if i share my feelings they will be upset, disappointed . 

4 ) Sibling may prefer to be socially isolated 

              Siblings may feel exhausted of hearing questions " what' s wrong about your sister?" , " Why is he diagnosed ? ", " is  it hard ? " also siblings knows that it is very hard for peers to understand what they live . As a result of these experiences, siblings may prefer to be alone when they feel their peers don't understand their feelings .

5 ) Living in a different family portrait 

             Even tne family plans the process well , it is a fact that the family portrait will usually have a difference for the siblings. Many special needed children can't be able to attend some organisations like birthday parties, outdoor activities  or more for variety of reasons just like therapies ,physical conditions , noro sensorial issues , medical conditions. On the other hand siblings usually doesn't prefer to invite peers to their homes thinking that their life is not ordinary . 

            By the time parants share their children. moms spend time with special needed son / daughter , dad with siblings. Siblings may think this harms the " family togetherness "

6 ) Siblings may be questioning tne acceptability 

           The acceptability of a child with special needs unfortunately varies from culture to culture . siblings may face some cases like these ; 

" Someone doesn't want to sit next to her brother "

" Someone who comments rudely about his sister " many experiences may feel siblings disappointed . Also siblings may create their world and life perspectives due to this life experiences .

All this statements i have declared may seem like a very pessimistic picture. These are the possibilities about  siblings' feelings and experiences . These may vary due to siblings age ,culture ,personality traits ,diagnosis of special needed brother or sister. 

              The most important point is undoubtedly ,the parents' behavior patterns about special needed child , siblings learn how to overcome difficulties from their parents because parents are primary role model .....


22 January 2022

I have been working in the field of Special Education since I graduated from Hacettepe University, Department of Psychology in 2001. I have a wide experience in Individual Education Responsibility Group Training Responsibility Education Coordinator Institution Founding I have a lot of long time experience in the Special Education Field, including the Director of the Institution.

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