Today my sister, Zoya, and I watched Polly and Evie, our two little sisters with disabilities, while my mom went out for a haircut. Since it’s summer, we do watch our sisters more often, but we don’t really mind. Usually, we pop in a movie, go outside or just have fun playing Barbies together.
But today, Evie threw a tantrum, which stressed us out and pushed Polly’s attention more out of the way. After Mom came home, we talked about what happened and how everybody was. It warmed my heart when she asked me if I was OK! I wasn’t the one throwing a tantrum or having trouble communicating. But my mom took a minute to check in with me.
Little things like that help remind me that my parents do care about me and don’t forget about their other kids. In light of my experience today and others like it, I came up with a list of three things parents can do to make sure their kids without special needs feel just as important as their siblings with special needs.
1. Take time to do fun stuff.
This may be an “ah-ha” moment or just a good reminder, but it’s very important to take one-on-one time to do things with your child. By planning fun activities to do with your kid, it makes them feel like you care about their happiness and you aren’t forgetting they are in tough boat, too. I understand parents of kids with special needs have a lot of obstacles and struggles, but sometimes the kids who are “typical” share some of those struggles. So plan a day of shopping, see a movie or even just talk! Just make sure it’s one-on-one and something you both want to do.
2. Ask us simple questions that might have slipped your mind otherwise.
I appreciate it when my family is having a hard day and my parents still take the time to ask me how my day at school was. It shows you not only care about big struggles with your kids with special needs, but you also care about your “typical” kid’s homework or what they’re planning to do on the weekend. This is a simple way to show you care.
3. Ask us our opinions on things regarding your kid with special needs.
By asking us our opinions, it makes us feel like we are in the loop and we get to know about things that have been taking up a lot of our parent’s energy and time. We better understand it instead of being outside of it all and feeling neglected. Even if we don’t really get a say, it’s nice to feel like our opinions are being heard.
I hope this helped! Remember that siblings of kids with special needs are usually pretty flexible and understanding. Yes, we all have our moments, but we love our family members with disabilities as much as our parents do, just maybe in a different way.
Follow this journey on GillianMarchenko.com.
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