BY KENDALL RAYBURN
Being the sibling of a special needs individual comes with a lot of “extras” and sometimes this can be difficult to navigate on your own. We wanted to compile a list of ten great books that may be helpful to anyone traveling this journey who are looking to hear from others going through the same thing. According to the University of Michigan Health System, the sibling of a child with special needs actually has a type of special needs themselves because their lives will be notably different.
Some siblings have a hard time coping with some of the challenges and emotions that come along with having a special needs brother or sister. But, people who grow up with a special needs sibling are often equipped with amazing qualities like patience, kindness, empathy for others, and loyalty, all amazing traits for anyone to have. So if you have a sibling with special needs, please feel free to browse the list below, and find a book that can help you to better understand your special sibling.
About the book: Living with a sibling who has special needs can be difficult for a child to deal with, day after day. This book provides anecdotal examples, self-help guidelines and practical coping techniques to promote positive, realistic attitudes as well as the benefits of having a special needs sibling. [via amazon.com]
About the Book: In Views From Our Shoes, 45 siblings share their experiences as the brother or sister of someone with a disability. The children whose essays are featured here range from four to eighteen and are the siblings of youngsters with a variety of special needs, including autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, ADD, hydrocephalus, visual and hearing impairments, Down and Tourette syndromes. Their personal tales introduce young siblings to others like them, perhaps for the first time, and allow them to compare experiences. A glossary of disabilities provides easy-to-understand definitions of many of the conditions mentioned. [via amazon.com]
About the book: Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs focuses on the intensity of emotions that brothers and sisters experience when they have a sibling with special needs, and the hard questions they ask: What caused my sibling’s disability? Could my own child have a disability as well? What will happen to my brother or sister if my parents die? Written for young readers, the book discusses specific disabilities in easy to understand terms. It talks about the good and not-so-good parts of having a brother or sister who has special needs, and offers suggestions for how to make life easier for everyone in the family. [via amazon.com]
About the book: When there’s a disabled child in the family, how are normally developing siblings affected? According to Kate Strohm, a counselor and health educator, siblings of the disabled face particular emotional challenges that are often overlooked. Able siblings commonly struggle with feelings of isolation, grief, anger, and anxiety—and these and other emotional issues can have lifelong effects.
Being the Other One is based on the author’s own experience (as a sibling of a sister with cerebral palsy) and on extensive interviews she conducted with siblings of all ages. In clear and compassionate terms, Strohm explores the often secret feelings of siblings and offers valuable strategies for coping with the challenges they face.
Being the Other One reveals the difficulties faced by siblings at all stages of life, from early childhood through adulthood, when siblings must often assume responsibility for the care of their disabled brothers and sisters. Though the book looks honestly at the many challenges that siblings face, it is full of encouragement and practical strategies. Strohm emphasizes that when siblings are able to clearly identify and openly express their feelings and concerns—and when parents and health professionals offer the needed support—siblings can thrive. This book includes writing exercises for personal exploration and a substantial resources section listing helpful books, organizations, and websites. [via amazon.com]
About the book: (2006 Independent Publishers Book Awards: Finalist in Juvenile-Teen-Y/A Non-Fiction category) Give teenagers a chance to say what’s on their minds, and you might be surprised by what you hear. That’s exactly what Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and author of VIEWS FROM OUR SHOES did when he invited together a group of 80 teenagers, from all over the United States and abroad, to talk about what it’s like to have a brother or sister with special needs. Their unedited words are found in THE SIBLING SLAM BOOK, a brutally honest, non-PC look at the lives, experiences, and opinions of siblings without disabilities. Formatted like the slam books passed around in many junior high and high schools, this one poses a series of 50 personal questions along the lines of: What should we know about you? What do you tell your friends about your sib’s disability? What’s the weirdest question you have ever been asked about your sib? If you could change one thing about your sib (or your sib’s disability) what would it be? What annoys you most about how people treat your sib?
THE SIBLING SLAM BOOK doesn’t slam in the traditional sense of the word. The tone and point-of-view of the answers are all over the map. Some answers are assuredly positive, a few are strikingly negative, but most reflect the complex and conflicted mix of emotions that come with the territory. Whether they read it cover to cover or sample it at random, teenagers will surely find common ground among these pages and reassurance that they are not alone. It is a book that parents, friends, and counselors can feel confident recommending to any teenager with a brother or sister with a disability. [via amazon.com]
About the book: The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities that are like those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin and religion. When the person with disabilities is a child, this will include special accommodations in schools, recreational programs, and any activity open to children in general.
Within the home, the child with disabilities, whether from birth, serious illness or injury, is surrounded by a loving family who must also make accommodations in many aspects of daily life. Taking care of a special needs child has an emotional impact on the entire family. With the rise of autism and other development disabilities, many typically developing children have seriously ill or or special needs siblings. These children often have to make due with a smaller share of their parent’s time, energy, or financial resources, and may experience troubling emotions such as jealousy, guilt, sadness, anger or embarrassment. There is, however, another side to being the brother or sister of a child with special needs:the opportunity to develop positive traits, such as empathy, tolerance, insight and loyalty. [via amazon.com]
About the book: In this absorbing and candid book, Mary McHugh reveals what she experienced as the sister of a man with cerebral palsy and mental retardation—and shares what others have learned about being and having a special sibling. Weaving a lifetime of memories and reflections with relevant research and interviews with more than 100 other siblings and experts, McHugh explores a spectrum of feelings—from anger and guilt to love and pride—and helps readers understand the issues siblings may encounter in:
- childhood—such as dealing with their own needs for attention and information, identifying with their parents grief, understanding their siblings disability, and coping with their own feelings
- adolescence—such as participating in family discussions, fitting in with peers, searching for their own identity, and talking to a counselor or therapist
- adulthood—such as building a support system, navigating adult relationships, deciding whether to have children, and planning for their siblings future care
Emotional and enlightening, this book is a must-read for teen and adult siblings—and all professionals who support people with disabilities and their families. [via amazon.com]
8 | Special Brothers and Sisters: Stories and Tips for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, Disability or Serious Illness
About the book: Special Brothers and Sisters is a collection of real-life accounts from the brothers and sisters of children with special needs, disability or serious illness, ranging in age from 3 to 18 years. They explain, in their own words, what it’s like to live with their siblings. There is a lot of advice available for parents of a child with a disability or illness, but very little about the important issue of educating their siblings about how they feel, and why they may behave differently from other children. These stories-from 40 different families-come with related tips to help siblings deal with some of the things that happen in their family lives. The book also provides a helpful glossary to explain, in child-friendly language, the disabilities and medical conditions mentioned, including: * ADHD * autism * cerebral palsy * cystic fibrosis * Down syndrome. Special Brothers and Sisters is an engaging and educational collection that will enable young people and adults to share in the extraordinary experience of being a sibling of a child with special needs, a disability or serious illness. [via amazon.com]
9 | The Sibling Survival Guide: Indispensable Information for Brothers and Sisters of Adults With Disabilities
About the book: If you’re a teenaged or adult brother or sister of someone with a disability, then this book is expressly for you. It offers a sense that you’re not alone, tips on how to talk to your parents about plans for your sibling, and a crash course in guardianship, medical & legal issues, and government benefits if you’re already caring for your sib.
Edited by experts in the field of disabilities and sibling relationships, The Sibling Survival Guide focuses on the topmost concerns identified in a survey of hundreds of siblings. The chapter authors, experienced siblings and service providers, offer practical information and anecdotes about:
– statistics & research about siblings
– younger siblings’ feelings
– impact on your life decisions
– caring for multiple generations
– aging and disability
– taking care of yourself
– getting services & advocacy
– future planning
Parents, counselors, and disability service agencies will also want a copy of this useful and upbeat book. [via amazon.com]
10 | Just Because
About the book: Amusing and often touching, this story encompasses the issue of disability in a charming celebration of sibling friendship to which all children can relate. My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can’t walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things. Just because.
A younger brother describes all the fun he has with the big sister he loves so much—just because, in this heartwarming picture book about being perfectly loved, no matter what. He is enthusiastic about just how loving and special she is, and delights in telling us about all the fun things they do together. Only as his tale unfolds does the reader begin to realize that his sister has special needs—and by then the reader just accepts, as he does, all the wonderful things about her. Teachers and librarians will appreciate this book for its sincere and convincing treatment of children with special needs, while parents will use this book to encourage sibling friendship and to read with children who are beginning to ask why a particular child they know is “different.” [via amazon.com]