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Suggestions for addressing the many different emotions you may experience: Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone. As your child and family adjust to the health impairment and/or disability, you may feel the satisfaction, comfort and even exhilaration that can come from managing a difficult situation, growing altogether, and seeing your child make gains. You may feel that through a growing understanding of your child, you and your family have a greater understanding for other people who are in some way “different,” or who have special needs. Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.

WHAT ARE THE REACTIONS WHICH SIBLINGS MAY HAVE ABOUT THE BROTHER OR SISTER WHO HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS OR A DISABILITY? Children sometimes lack information about a sibling’s disability, possibly because they’re too young and inexperienced to understand. Brothers and sisters who have a sibling with a disability or chronic illness may: feel guilty about somehow having “caused” the illness or disability. In play or fantasy, it is not uncommon to wish a brother or sister sick or dead, and when it happens, they may think they are responsible. be angry and resent the special attention and the amount of Mom and Dad’s time which the sick or disabled child receives. be afraid that they may “catch” it. feel embarrassment about their brother or sister’s condition or disability. grieve and be depressed. show their anxiety by boisterous disturbing behavior, becoming discipline problems, or behaving in nervous, silly ways. Behavior problems or changes in their achievement at school may be signs that a sibling is disturbed by the home situation and may need some help. keep all their feelings bottled up inside and withdraw from family activities. sacrifice too much of their free time to help you or the sick or disabled child. worry because no one has explained the situation to them, and they may be afraid to ask what is going on.

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