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Brothers and sisters want and need to share both the joys and some of the responsibilities of family life when a child has a disability or health problem. Some things that parents can consider to help the siblings of their child with special needs are: Provide simple explanations about the diagnosis or disability. Take siblings to visit any special programs their brother or sister is in. Talk with and listen to them about how they feel. Answer any questions they have. Talk to them honestly if they behave in unacceptable ways. Reassure them of your love for them. Show them acceptable methods of expressing their feelings and frustrations. Give them room to be children. Sometimes you won’t like to hear the feelings they express as part of the process of maturing. Look at things from their point of view. Teach them how to handle embarrassing situations. If possible, introduce your children to other children who have a sibling with a disability.

HOW CAN I HANDLE THE REACTIONS OF MY CHILD’S GRANDPARENTS? It is often difficult for grandparents to deal with their feelings when their grandchild is ill or has a disability. It is important to remember that grandparents experience many of the same feelings that parents do. Some of these feelings are associated with the process of grieving, such as shock, denial, frustration, sadness, and then finally acceptance. However, accepting the reality can be harder for them because they are

somewhat removed from the immediate situation. For them the bonding process that helps them to see the child as a child first, instead of just seeing the disability may happen more slowly. Or they may think the parents are using their child’s problems as an excuse for something else. They may: use denial and never talk about the child’s illness or disability, but that does not mean they don’t care; blame “the other side of the family”; withdraw and not come to visit because it is to painful for them or they are afraid that their pain will burden you; feel helpless and inadequate because this sorrow has come into your life, and they cannot control it.

These factors may explain why they sometimes avoid acknowledging or talking about your child’s illness or disability. Grandparents may benefit from having access to information about the interventions or treatments for the child in order to understand

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