Support Copy

We have discussed the impacts and pressures that siblings of children with specific needs may face. We have also indicated how siblings may feel lonely, isolated and even neglected as parents, family and friends focus on the child with additional needs.

Local health and social service guidelines and policies will focus on the child with disabilities. This means they are are unlikely to consider siblings and, as a result, any care plans or support packages will not include them. Even when siblings have their own needs identified, any additional care or support will be offered separately from the rest of the family. It is rare that support services look at the family as a whole.

A blue character stands alone. He has a tear down his cheek and is looking sad. He has a broken red heart on his shirt.

This practice also risks missing the insights that siblings have regarding their brothers and sisters and the impact a sibling may have on their care. Siblings may also become responsible for their care later in life, so it is desirable that they are involved in the planning process as much as is realistic.

It is, therefore, worth looking for support groups where young people can take part in activities with other children who have a disabled sibling. This gives them time away from their family life and allows them to enjoy activities which they may not otherwise be able to do. For older siblings, in particular a support groups where they can speak to other people in a similar situations would be beneficial. As it may help them make sense of their situation and understand that they are not alone. Where something is not available locally, online groups and chat rooms might be useful.

Charities and Non-governmental organisations

Organisations, such as civil societies and charities, also tend to focus on the child with the disability. However, there are some organisations that do provide support for the whole family, and some that focus on the siblings. It is worth doing some research and finding support for those young people in your care. Again, organisations might offer online support if there is nothing provided locally.


School will often see the impact of the pressures on the siblings first, in their work and in their behaviour. The school may be able to offer practical and emotional support. Showing understanding of their situation and helping them to keep up with their studies will go a long way to letting the young person know they have been seen and heard. Giving a child a space to talk and share their concerns and worries is a further simple but meaningful action that a school can offer. Finally, helping the young person to find peers they can talk to will help them with their confidence and feelings of belonging.

Key Point

~ Formal support for siblings of children with special needs and disabilities is not easily available. Finding support for the young person will benefit them and those working with them.

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