Raising a child with special needs or a learning disability can be a challenge for any parent. It can take a toll on parents’ lives both mentally and physically. However, if there are siblings in the picture, and those siblings do not have a learning disability, it can also be very difficult for them.
In a family that has a child with a learning disability, sometimes special focus will be placed solely on that child. As unintentional as it may be, a child with a learning disability or other special needs may require more care and attention than a child who is not dealing with one. That’s why it’s important you take the time to work with your other children to make sure they are able to cope with the situation. Here’s how you can help your child cope if they have a sibling with special needs.
Don’t Expect Them to Be the Caretaker
In most older sibling situations, the elder child will often be asked to babysit the younger siblings. While that is okay to do every once in awhile, it becomes 10 times harder when the younger sibling has a special need. If a child wants to help the family out and take care of the younger sibling on occasion, allow them to do that. However, just make sure you aren’t relying on them too be the caretaker. Your older child is a child too, and they need to be treated like one.
Try Your Best to Create a Normal Environment
As hard as this may be, it’s extremely important to create and maintain as normal an environment as possible. Make sure both children have their own separate rooms, their own separate clothes, and their own separate schedules. If your child wants to play a sport after school, encourage them to pursue their own passions and interests. If necessary, send each child to a different school: A traditional school for your child without any disabilities, schools for special needs for your other child. The best schools for special needs will be able to give your child the focus and attention they need to succeed. About one-third of parents of kids with learning disabilities don’t feel prepared to take on the challenge, and schools for special needs or special needs education can help parents make their lives a bit more normal.
Being a parent of a child with a special need can be difficult, but it can also be very difficult to be a sibling of a child with a special need. Take a look at the suggestions above to help all of your children make their lives as normal as possible.