What is a typical sibling?

Typical siblings are those who have a sibling with significant special needs. They face life with a unique set of challenges and feelings.

Understanding and supporting the typical sibling

While feeling love, support, and loyalty for their brother or sister, the typical sibling also can feel overlooked and resentful as their parents focus on the more pressing needs of their sibling.

Recognize the child is often expressing normal feelings to abnormal situations. Frequent hospitalizations of the affected sibling, special caregivers entering and exiting their household, different expectations of the typical sibling, periods of embarrassment – these are but a few of the situations that can exacerbate feelings of frustration, jealousy, guilt and loneliness in the typical sibling.

The parent also may have his/her own feelings of guilt about not having time or emotional energy for the typical child in the family, and expecting too much from them during times of acute stress. Whenever possible, finding regular time with the typical child without their sibling benefits both the child and the parent.

Connecting with others who face similar challenges provides support and lessens isolation.

“We learned valuable talking points and got excellent advice. Anytime you have a chance to sit down with others who understand your struggles, it’s a helpful conversation. The needs of kids change as they get older and it was great to get input from a parent of older children and understand what’s ahead for us.”

Heather Eddy, Plymouth

Parent participant