Siblings & disability

Although there is no set rule of how siblings should be raised around a brother or sister with a disability, it is important parents encourage or insist, siblings play an integral role in the lives of their sibling with the disability.

The nature of a disability means there are several common issues faced by a child with a disability, but their siblings may emotionally struggle too. It is not uncommon for that child’s siblings to be at risk of developing stress and emotional issues, where they start to internalise issues that aren’t obvious or visible in an attempt to hide how they feel about their sibling.

Whilst the family focus must always be on the child with the disability that will take away from the attention needed by his or her siblings. Where parents are going back and forth with hospital or physiotherapy appointments that will also limit the amount of time they spend with their other children. In these cases it’s easy for siblings to feel and be neglected.

Siblings may start to attention-seek with their parents and with each other, as a result of them living with their sibling with the disability. All children must have emotional support because without it, it’s easy for siblings to experience jealousy, resentment and anger towards the sibling with the disability.


It is important that parents ensure their children are inclusive and together. Their non-disabled children must have a normal life as possible, so that they are able to engage in extracurricular activities and so they can be social with their peers.

Although a disability makes us different, it shouldn’t makes us less inclusive or less important, that our emotional needs with a disability didn’t matter. The nature of a disability does make us different, but it’s important we’re not made to feel different.

There should be no embarrassment for the normal siblings, as a result of the behaviour and appearance of a disabled sibling. Those siblings should be encouraged to bring their friends home.

17 Mar, 2019

2 thoughts on “Siblings & disability

  1. As with much parenting there is a fine line between getting it right and getting it wrong. As your story shows all children need stable emotional support and encouragement as individuals and as part of a family unit and that clearly didn’t happen for you.

    I spent most of my childhood out of the house at friends’ as I didn’t want to bring friends back to mine. My grandmother lived with us who didn’t get on with my father and my brother had emotional problems which we now know is probably Autism.

    Unfortunately, none of this was addressed by my parents and now as adults my siblings struggle individually and as a family unit. It didn’t have to be like that if my parents had dealt with all three of us differently and tackled the issues we all experienced while at home.

    1. Thanks. I went on to know why and the answer didn’t sit pretty. Whatever we’re born with, it’s important if parents have made a decision to have children, they look after their children.

      I do believe though that some parents don’t understand how to parent and get it wrong, by not being aware. To a degree that can be forgiven, but that didn’t happen for me, in my case at all. But it’s important we understand our parents and our circumstances.

      You were clearly capable. I believe your mum saved you by making it easier for you to set your own bar. If your brother has only just found out that something was missed, and your family think he has Autism, it will have been harder for him growing up.

      It’s important to apply understanding so that we don’t apportion blame, but come to understand. The blame game doesn’t help, solve or change anything. The only thing we can do is change things for our children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pre-order my new book

Many thanks
Ilana x