What is it like being a sibling?
Being a sibling of a brother or sister with a visual impairment brings experiences which can be both good and challenging. Siblings often learn skills and develop abilities from supporting their brother or sister. This means they often show great patience and can be creative and resourceful. However, sometimes siblings might struggle a little too. Siblings at times may feel isolated, worried or lonely.
What can I do as a parent to support my sibling child?
Parents often feel worried and guilty about the impact having a disabled brother or sister might have on their sibling child. It can feel like a struggle to meet the different needs of all of the children in the family. However, there are some simple things which can help.
1. Spend time each day with siblings one to one
2. Talk about disability from an early age
3. Acknowledge negative feelings as well as the positive ones
4. Teach siblings fun activities they can do with their brother or sister
5. Give siblings choice about spending time with their brother or sister
6. Limit the type and amount of care and support that siblings do
7. Take action on issues that affect your siblings’ wellbeing and education
8. Talk to siblings in the teenage years about plans for the future
9. Give siblings permission and encouragement to enjoy and live their own lives
10. Celebrate siblings’ achievements.
Where can I find information for my sibling child?
In our 20 years of supporting siblings, we have learned how important it is for children and young people to have access to good quality information. YoungSibs (www.youngsibs.org.uk) is our online information service for siblings aged 7-17. The website provides a range of resources including age-appropriate information on disabilities and health conditions including visual impairment, autism, ADHD and learning disabilities. There is lots of information about how to cope with sibling life at school, maintaining good mental health and tips about what siblings can do if they are worried about the future. Importantly, there is also information about finding ways to develop positive relationships with their brothers and sisters. Sibs also writes monthly blogs for children on relevant topics such as celebrating family occasions, changing schools or learning about new diagnoses. There is also the opportunity for siblings to write to a sibling advisor with any specific worries or problems, receiving a personalised response from the Sibs Team.
What other support is available?
Having opportunities for siblings to meet other siblings like them is a valuable source of support and comfort for siblings. Some siblings attend local sibling support groups, some children receive support from young carer services and others have the opportunity to meet other siblings through local and national events for families of disabled children. It is crucial for siblings to know they are not alone! Sibs has also developed Sibs Talk, an intervention for primary school aged children. Sibs also works to train professionals wishing to set up sibling support groups.
Downloadable Resource for Parents
Following our Introductory workshop for parents, Sibs has created this valuable resource, packed full of information, tips and advice for parents supporting siblings of children and young people with visual impairment. Click below to access the resource.
Sibs is the UK charity supporting brothers and sisters of disabled children and adults and provides support to siblings across the lifespan. www.sibs.org.uk