The most important thing for me growing up was having my parents always shower me with love and affection. It helps to hear you are loved and appreciated. It can make up for all the attention your sib might be getting.
1. Involve young sibs in the care of their brother or sister—but not as a main caregiver. They are important family members who need to be included in what will affect them.
2. Young sibs should be acknowledged for their empathy and ability to be in-tune to other people as well as their sibling with special needs.
3. Many younger siblings of disabled kids feel out of place, having to watch out for their older sibling while craving attention themselves. Any praise you offer them can keep them from harboring resentment into adulthood.
4. Give the kids a hug! That's one of the best things you can do. Hugs feel great.
5. There was never any doubt in my mind that my parents saw me as an individual.
They made an effort to get to know my friends and support me in my hobbies.
My parents made sure to celebrate my sister's and my achievements separately and equally. I celebrated my sister’s milestones and it was expected that my sis would celebrate mine.
I felt special when others made an effort to find out what my interests were and what was going on in my life and talked to me about them.
When family members or close family friends talked to me about my life without making my sib a central part of the conversation, I felt like my life mattered and that my problems were worth addressing -- even if they weren't related to my sib.
My mom often complemented me on my accomplishments, skills, and spirit—and still does. That helped a lot!
I really appreciated when one of my parents, or even a family friend, took time to really focus on what was going on with me--just me--and my life.
My parents made me feel special by letting me know that they were proud of my achievements and attending as many of my soccer games and concerts as they could.
My mom especially would make time to take me to places that she and I only enjoyed (like the art museum). That was always very special.
My sister and I had a wonderful neighbor. Although she had her own children, she always took time to talk to us about what we were up to. I enjoyed art, and my sister enjoyed writing, and she was the one adult in our lives who knew anything about our passions. It's not that she spent a lot of time asking us about us, but it was powerful to have that five minutes a week to have an adult listen to us with such interest.
Every night, my mother would always ask me to tell her one thing about my day.
When I was a child, my mother made every effort to attend my school functions. It was a big deal to have my mom in the audience cheering just for me. My siblings (all 9 of them!) were not with her.
I liked when they acknowledged that I knew as much about my brother as my parents did.
I liked people simply inquiring about MY interests and asking how I was doing.
When a service provider did something as simple as remember my name and
ask me how my day was, it made me feel acknowledged and appreciated.
I liked when adults didn't ask me about my sister every time they talked to me.
I liked it when teachers treated me like an individual and not an extension of my sibling.
A nun at my sister's program once asked me all kinds of questions about me: what I like to do, what my favorite subject was, who was my best friend. Wow! I was about 5 or so and that 10 minutes remains a shining moment for me.
Edited by Don Meyer, Cristina Breshears, and Patrick Martin. © The Sibling Support Project. All rights reserved.