Disability & families

As a child growing up with something, later finding out it was cerebral palsy, meant my disability would become part of my family’s life too. Trying to manage any disability around family is difficult.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me, let alone how what was wrong with me would affect us all, but years later and a comment that was made by one of my siblings, reinforced those thoughts.

From a parents point of view, it is difficult to know what’s best or how to deal with raising a child with a physical or mental disability, without ignoring their other children. However hard a parent tries, their attention will always turn to the child that struggles. It’s the nature of raising a child with a disability.

All my hospital, exercise and physiotherapy appointments were met, but all my other issues were overlooked. My neurological problems were never aired or discussed. With the help of outside intervention, it is important for parents to be open and honest about what the family deal with, because they look after a child or a sibling with a disability.

It is also important parents explain to their other children in a language their children will understand, why their sister or brother needs the extra help. When nothing is discussed and the parents’ attention turns to the child that needs the most help, it is inevitable their other children will struggle too.

As a general rule, children are happy to go with something once they’ve had things explained to them. I am sure any child would be happy to help their brother or sister, if it meant they got the help they needed, because they deal with a disability.

In families, problems arise when attention is given to the child with the disability, and his or her siblings are continually being left out, and ignored.


11 Apr, 2014

2 thoughts on “Disability & families

  1. I totally agree with you.

    When we brought our son into the family, we explained things to his now sisters even though they are in their 20’s. We wanted them included in the care of him, however little they could do. I think it helps to include the other children if they are included in the care of their brother or sister. But as luck would have it they both moved away, following their boyfriends.

    When I got married to my current husband we joined families, as he had a daughter whom I consider my own now. I think it was hard on her, due to the problems that my daughter had. She has mental disabilities that took extra time to deal with and after we had been married for about 2 years my daughter’s father committed suicide, so that just added to the extra attention she got.

    I had to explain to my step-daughter why things were different with Sarah and her. I think she understood things well but still was jealous of my daughter. I tried to include my step-daughter in everything, but it was very difficult. I just did my best.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Your family circumstances are slightly different to how mine were, but you have done exactly the right thing.

      When we live one way and then introduce an adopted son or daughter into the equation with special needs, there will always be an adjustment period for everyone coming together for the first time. That part is never easy. In those circumstances, we just have to make sure we continue to explain things as we go.

      With your daughters moving out just at that point when you brought your son home, in a way has made it easier for you and your husband, but if and when your daughters do come home, you may find that more adjustment time is needed.

      Jealousy usually comes from children feeling they’re not getting as much attention as their siblings, but I’m not sure how much of how they’re already feeling about themselves and their lives is also a consideration. A lot of how we already feel stems from our early years.

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