Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother's keeper
While parents probably play the biggest role in the life of a child with special needs, there is another big time player in their life: their siblings. Brothers and sisters of a child with special needs play a special role in that they are closer to their age and understand some of the struggles of growing up in a way that is different than the parent may view the child's life. Siblings are typically the ones who go to school and experience life together. This being the case, having a sibling with special needs heightens a child's sense of empathy and compassion in a way that other children may not understand.
Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper
by Megan Goates, Deseret News
It's a funny dichotomy. Parents of special-needs children are often recognized and lauded for their unflagging service to their children. Yet, the non-disabled siblings of the same families can go unnoticed.
It's tempting to look at the challenges of such a family and conclude that having a sibling with a disability is a damaging burden — one which can marginalize and embitter the brothers or sisters of a child with special needs. We might feel it is a tragedy not only for the child with special needs, but also for the siblings.
It isn't the case, though.
In my family, which includes two boys who have multiple disabilities as well as two typical boys, I've seen the opposite. The same is true in the myriad families I know who had both disabled and non-disabled children.
Siblings of a special-needs kid are the lucky ones, because they grow into people who understand selflessness.
They learn at a tender age to serve and have endless opportunities to offer unending service at home.
My eldest son has never known anything different. At age 6, he started washing his own hair in the bath before instinctively reaching over to wash his 4-year-old brother's hair as well. In the car, he buckled his little brother's seatbelt automatically before buckling his own. Now as a middle schooler, he picks up the toddler when the 10-year-old starts violently rampaging. He calmly talks to the 6-year-old, whose anxiety can spin out of control. He watches over his younger brothers with gentleness.