Special Kids: Surviving and Thriving While Raising a Child With Special Needs

An article in Parent Map magazine written by Patricia Guthrie on September 26, 2013.

From the article:

Young siblings of children who need a myriad of medical, social and therapy support often feel jealous and resentful about being the “not so special child.”

And teens with special-needs siblings may feel they’re being called upon to be mature beyond their years, says Rachel Simon, a best-selling author who grew up in a family of four, which includes Beth, who has developmental disabilities. Simon’s 1999 book, Riding the Bus with My Sister, details the year she spent discovering the many friendships her sister formed while riding city buses in a Pennsylvania city. She said her sense of responsibility for Beth intensified in her 20s when her friends were free to “goof off.” She remembers thinking, “How can they be so carefree and foolish?”

Experts say children growing up with a sibling with special needs often reflect the way their parents cope. If the parent is handling things well, the kids will, also. But, Simon says, people often forget that adults have the advantage of perspective. Young brothers and sisters, on the other hand, have not experienced a “before” and “after.” They only know the “now.” And that now can seem unfair, uncompromising and downright difficult.

More help today

These days, families such as the one I grew up in can draw on more support and resources, especially in Washington state. In fact, this region has been a leader in creating innovative programs replicated across the country and globe. Three of these — Parent to Parent, Sibshops and Washington State Fathers Network — have helped tens thousands of families for more than three decades.

Click here to read the entire article online.