News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Do Siblings Need Support?

JCCHD | Mon, July 02, 2018 | [Autism Treatment][Community][Sibling Spotlight]

Given the challenges and demands that are often placed on the parents of children with developmental disorders, chronic illnesses, or other significant cognitive or health issues, the needs of the siblings of these children can sometimes be overlooked or underestimated. This makes sense given the more pronounced or immediate needs of their brother or sister.

Siblings of children who have more challenging needs are often dealing with complex feelings and challenges, including:

Loneliness: Siblings may feel that their friends can’t understand what they are going through.

Resentment or Jealousy: Siblings may feel like their sibling’s needs are taken more seriously than their own, or they may resent the time and resources that are dedicated to meeting those needs.

Anxiety or Fear: Siblings may be concerned about their own well-being, the well-being of their sibling, or even be looking ahead and are concerned about what the future holds for their sibling and their family.

Guilt: Siblings may be feeling guilt about not facing the same challenges as their sibling or over adding any demands or concerns to their parents.

Embarrassment: Siblings may be embarrassed by their sibling’s needs or behavior or by the way their family life is affected by these needs.

Frustration: Siblings may be frustrated by their inability to help their brother or sister or by the sibling’s inability to relate to or play with them at the same level. Some siblings also report frustration that they don’t have a “normal” family or can’t do “normal” family things.

Some siblings can become skilled at hiding their fears and feelings, not wishing to place any additional worry or concern on their parents.

At the Johnson Center for Child Health & Development, we have always been committed to supporting the entire family, including siblings. For the past several years, we have hosted a number of SibCamps, designed to offer a fun and supportive therapeutic camp to siblings ranging in age from 7 to 17.  These camps have made a positive and lasting impact not only on the children who attend, but also on the entire family. Attendees and their parents have reported that the lessons learned at camp have led to improved understanding and communication between all of the family members.

The success and demand for these camps has revealed a much greater need in our community—counseling services for siblings of children with special needs, provided by therapists with knowledge and expertise on their unique needs.

With the right support and resources in place, supporting the emotional health of every member of the family can lead to more open communication, improved relationships, resiliency, and an ability to see the benefits and unique experiences that can come from being a supportive and supported sibling.

The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development is proud to offer psychotherapy services to siblings of all ages. A sliding fee scale is available as well as a limited number of grants and scholarships. For more information, contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by calling 512.732.8400.