How will having a sibling with Down Syndrome affect other children in the family? 

While having a sibling with Down Syndrome may present unique challenges, it also provides many opportunities for children’s positive growth and character development. Studies have shown that children who have a brother or sister with Down Syndrome can benefit in many ways. For example, these children often exhibit a level of maturity above that of their peers and tend to have more highly-developed communication and social skills. The experience and knowledge gained by having a sibling with Down Syndrome also seems to make children more accepting and appreciative of differences. They tend to be more aware of the difficulties others might be going through, and often surprise parents and others with their wisdom, insight and empathy.

Brothers and sisters of an individual with Down Syndrome are also very much aware of their sibling’s challenges and thus, often take a tremendous amount of pride in his or her accomplishments. In addition, parents often report that no matter what issues siblings may have with their brother or sister with Down Syndrome at home, outside the home they are typically very loyal to their sibling and do their best to defend and protect him or her.

Tips for caring for siblings.

  •  Be sure to acknowledge all emotions, not just the positive ones. If your children know that it is ok to express any feelings they may be having about their sibling with Down Syndrome, negative emotions are less likely to turn up in other ways, such as behaviour problems.
  • While it can be beneficial for your other children to feel that they can play an important role in caring for their sibling, don’t give them too many responsibilities in this area.
  • Although your responsibilities may pull you in many different directions, pay attention to your children and any changes in their moods. If you notice symptoms of anxiety or depression, get your child the help he or she needs as early as possible.
  • Make an effort to spend time with each of your children on a regular basis. Each child is unique, so don’t worry about dividing your time equally. Instead, focus on what’s important to an individual child, and dedicate time to those things that would make him or her feel loved or special.
  • Remind your children that all members of your family are special in their own way.

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