The term “special needs” encompasses a huge range of cases, from children who are on the very mild end of the autism spectrum to children who have severe Down’s Syndrome or cerebral palsy. Caring for a special needs child can be difficult, as can teaching other siblings how to interact with their special needs brother or sister. Here are some great tips to help you out if this situation has you stressed.
All Special Children
One of the problems that may result, especially in the cases of younger children, is that the sibling feels as though the special needs child receives more attention. Make sure that you spend individual time with all of your children, whether it is taking a few minutes to get your nails done together or watching your son’s baseball game.
Involve Your Children
Perhaps one of your children is required to travel around in a wheelchair. Let your other children be a part of helping in that process. For example, if your child in a wheelchair needs to be pushed or needs a door held open for him or her, ask your other children to take part in that. As mentioned earlier, sometimes children feel left out when there is a special needs child in the family. By making the whole family feel as though as they one unit, no one is being left out, and your children feel as though they are helping each other.
You might feel as though you need to constantly be on top of your special needs child to cater to his or her every necessity. In some extreme cases, this may be true. However, if there is no serious danger in letting your child be alone for a few minutes, encourage your other children to spend time alone with their special needs sibling. They can engage in activities that other siblings participate in, such as drawing, working with clay or reading books together. If the child is able to physically do so, they can go outside and play some sorts or take a swim together.
Educating Your Child
Do not pretend as though your child does not have special needs. You are not doing his or her siblings a favor by keeping them in the dark. Explain what types of special needs that the child has to your other children. Some libraries have books that help to explain different types of disabilities, so read them with your children. Chances are, your child is going to be very accepting of his or her sibling, especially if you explain the ways in which all people, no matter what, are different. Yes, jealousies may arise, but isn’t that the case with any set of siblings no matter who they are?
Having a special needs child can certainly be a trying task at times, and parents might be tempted to shield their other children from the issues or to push them away from the scene. However, there is nothing wrong with diversity, no matter in what form it comes. As a result of having a special needs sibling, your child may very well be much more understanding and kind to everyone.