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Siblings of Children with Special Needs

| June 30, 2020

Raising a child with special needs is challenging for most families. Dealing with the daily caregiving issues, medical appointments, and educational challenges can be stressful. This is in addition to dealing with their own employment, relationship between spouses and demands of their other children. Siblings of a child with special needs grow up with their own emotional difficulties. Feeling of neglect as parents devote more time to their brother or sister, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, jealousy and anger are quite common. Emotional outbursts, acting out, failing grades are symptoms that are red flags for the parents to watch out for.

On a positive note, there are steps and opportunities parents can take to help facilitate a healthy relationship between the children.  Parents can be supportive of both kids and teach the sibling to be patient, kind, helpful, while teaching the child to have empathy for others as the child identifies appropriate coping mechanisms with all challenges.  A major point to consider is that the sibling needs to understand and feel loved, have security, and receive attention, in order to show love, give security, and offer attention.  They also need information about their disabled sibling’s condition.  It is also more likely for the sibling who grows up with a child with special health or developmental needs may have more of a chance to develop many good qualities that will last a lifetime. 

Siblings in most cases grow up to be protective of their brother or sister with special needs. Parents often rely on them to step in their shoes as advocates after they are gone. They are also successor trustees of the special needs trusts the parents create for the future security of their child. For every family raising a child with a special needs, maintaining a healthy and stable family life despite the challenges they face is crucial for the future of their children.

Minoti Rajput CFP, ChSNC.

Minoti Rajput is the founder and principal wealth advisor of Secure Planning Strategies. She has been working with families with children of special needs for over thirty years and is a frequent speaker on various topics related to special needs planning. She is also the author of ‘Beyond a Parent’s Love.