Understanding a sibling’s perspective

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Most siblings of a person with a disability will be able to say there were good and not so good parts to their experience. Those who can look back and see benefits in their situation say they have found inspiration through their brothers and sisters, become more tolerant, more compassionate, more aware of their blessings and, in many ways, more mature than young people who have not had these experiences. They say growing up with their brother or sister gave true meaning to their lives, that “they made me who I am”. Some children, however, have a more difficult time. They can experience confusion over the feelings that arise. On the one hand, a child may feel loving and protective toward their brother or sister, but at the same time feel a mixture of more difficult feelings such as resentment, fear, guilt, embarrassment and sorrow. As children, they are likely to lack the understanding, emotional maturity and coping skills required to deal with their experiences. As a result, they can feel isolated and confused and become ‘at risk’ for a range of emotional, mental and physical health problems, which can continue into adulthood.

NOT ALL siblings will experience concerns and, with an increased understanding of the issues for siblings, it is fairly easy to support children so their adjustment can become more positive. You can’t remove some of the stresses, but you can help children manage them. Most children can deal with stress better if they feel listened to and understood.

Only once you understand Autism from different perspectives can you support the child and their family.

www.siblingsaustralia.org.au


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