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Support for Siblings

Being a brother or sister of a child with special needs can be tough. Siblings sometimes feel:

  • Guilty that they are "normal"
  • Embarrassed about their sibling
  • Afraid that they will develop the same illness or disability
  • Angry about the attention their sibling receives
  • Lonely

Brothers and sisters may also need support to help them deal with these feelings. Give them age-appropriate information about their sibling’s disability or condition. This can help siblings deal with feelings about their brother or sister’s special needs and answer questions they might have.

Siblings also need a chance to talk to other children who have some of the same feelings and experiences. The Sibling Support Project at Arc of Massachusetts recognizes the unique needs of brothers and sisters. They offer workshops, provide educational materials, and maintain a database of other sibling supports.

Your child may also want to connect with other siblings of children with special needs on the Internet. The Sibling Support Project hosts two listservs (parents are welcome to listen in on both lists): SibKids is for young brothers and sisters and SibNet is for adult brothers and sisters of people with special needs.

This information is provided in part by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and mass.gov.

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