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If you have a sibling with some SN how did it affect you as a child and adult?

(162 Posts)
OneDreamOnly Sun 27-Jul-14 17:29:15

Do you think it made you stronger, that you learn to be respectful of people regardless of their specialness?
Or did it make you angry or resentful of all the attention they got and you didn't get?

I have one dc who is NT, one dc who still being assessed but at the very least high needs. Just trying to workout what could be the potential effects on dc1 and how I can best help/support him

Stormbrewing Sun 27-Jul-14 17:59:00

I'm in my fifties. I have a sister who went away to school and then at 16 came to live back at home with my parents 'forever'. I have honestly found it very hard to have a relationship with my parents with my sister always coming first. Although i absolutely understand that my sister needs to be looked after, I've also found it terribly hard to cope with her violent temper. My parents are now in their late eighties and nothing has been put in place with regards to my sister's future - they expect me to take over and look after her, like they have all their lives, despite the fact that I have my own life and family. This is something I will have to find my way around when my parents die, as they absolutely refuse to consider that there is at other option for her.

IncaAztec Sun 27-Jul-14 18:01:40

Bit of both really. Brother has PMLD, felt to have an as yet undiagnosed or discovered syndrome. Made me more independent than most and SN seemed less of an issue when younger. Now I'm older with 2 DC, I'm finding things much harder. No sibling support and my DM and DF still heavily involved with my DB and his care needs.

I think the best way to support is to encourage normality for your NT child eg play dates etc but also consider respite (if appropriate) for your other child.

weegiemum Sun 27-Jul-14 18:05:55

I have a brother with autism, LDs and medical problems.

I have a good relationship with him, am his appointed guardian when my parents aren't here any more (along with another brother). He lives independently with carers. I've found that having grown up with a family member with autism, I'm much more sensitive to people in that situation, and though my dc are all NT, I think my experience with my brother has made me a better parent.

He's also a brilliant uncle, our dc love him!

Batmansbuttocks Sun 27-Jul-14 18:11:29

It's made me a better person. I have a degree of ongoing guilt that I am considered the 'success' of the family. It made me more worried/realistic than my peers about having a child with LD. I have probably been over sensitive about my DC reaching their milestones. As it happens my DC3 has some SEN.

I feel sad that he was born when he was (70s) as there was less support/intervention.

humding Sun 27-Jul-14 18:13:57

I could have written Stormbrewings post. Only, I am very soon (imminently) to be the unwilling carer of my older sister. SS were once very involved in her care but my parents took her back as their responsibilty. I am just not in a position to take over and yet SS now don't want to know.

I did resent her hugely as a child, I was much younger but had to be the one in charge. I hated sharing a room. I don't really know what my parents could have done differently then but they absolutely shouldn't be leaving it all to me now.

humding Sun 27-Jul-14 18:16:03

And I have felt guilty for 50 years. Tormentedly so. I am a horrible person.

ziggiestardust Sun 27-Jul-14 18:40:36

My DH has a sister with severe autism and other issues. It was very hard for him growing up, and he was always made to feel he should be grateful for just being 'normal'. All the attention went on his DSIS, and his mum actually forgot to buy for him at Christmas once because she'd been so busy making sure she'd got everything his DSIS could want. He was 11 sad

DH and his mum drifted apart a long time ago, and I doubt there will be any reconciliation on either side. She's not interested in him, or rather, she just doesn't have the time for him.

Ohanarama Sun 27-Jul-14 18:52:30

I have a DB with severe autism, I love him very much and bear him no resentment but growing up with him has made me very introverted. As a family we didn't go out at weekends or school holidays and I couldn't have friends over often. Also growing up in the 70s and 80s there was a childhood culture of sniggering and jeering about people with learning disabilities and this made me horribly self conscious about my DB and I rarely talked about him at school. In a positive way though my relationship with him has made me empathetic and sensitive to people with disabilities and disadvantages

Patrickstarisabadbellend Sun 27-Jul-14 18:52:42

My brother had add, serious toilet issues and other medical problems. He has Tourette's too.
Mum was always fussing him and to be honest I always felt left out. I thought she loved him more.

His needs were always put before mine and my other siblings. I understand why but it still hurt.

I don't have a fab relationship with my mum now and I blame that on the fact that my you her brother was alway and still is put first.

Charlilou490 Sun 27-Jul-14 18:58:47

I have a brother with special needs, he is 2 years younger.
I think having him around has made me a better person and couldn't imagine anything else. I will take over his care when my parents are no longer around and I will do that willingly!

YouForgotToCallMePeppa Sun 27-Jul-14 19:01:45

I have 5 siblings, the middle one has severe learning difficulties, and is also moderately physically disabled.

We never resented him growing up; perhaps having lots of siblings made him just one of a big group, put less responsibility on any one of us. He couldn't really join in any of our games, but he was always around. I can imagine if he was my only sibling, it could be more isolating, as it is I don't have to rely on him for support. But he still offers love and companionship, in his own way.

We tease my mum he's her favourite, but we're just kidding.

I feel privileged he's my brother to be honest, I feel the sibling bond we share is very special, though our relationship is slightly different to that with my other siblings. But it's certainly not all "one way".

RunningKatie Sun 27-Jul-14 19:10:31

My brother had query cerebal palsy diagnosed at 8. That was the start of a slippery slope of a unresolved and diagnosable condition.

I resented him, i was the middle child, we grew up as great friends and then he was "gone". Our younger sibling was too young to remember life before, I'm not sure if that helped. She simply did not tell anyone she had a brother.

I missed out on french exchanges and stuff because we couldn't have people to stay. And yes, respite care in the 70s/80s was scant.

I was bitter, none of it was his fault, and it was just an awful situation to be caught in. There was no support for us as his siblings, I know things have changed in that respect now.

He died a few years ago, i wish he could have met my dc's. Even in his darkest days he loved babies.

WYorksLass Sun 27-Jul-14 19:11:04

I had a brother with several physical disabilities. I adored him and always looked out for him. We used to go to a youth club for children with one of his disabilities and their siblings which was fab.
He did take up a lot of our parents time but I don't ever remember being jealous. But then my parents always made sure we each had some quality time alone with them. My mum now think she over-compensated, I don't, I have happy childhood memories!
Sadly he died at the age of 21, I was 24. I really miss him.

InSummer Sun 27-Jul-14 19:17:15

I have a brother who has Autism. The main things that I struggled with when we were younger were things like him breaking things, not wanting to go places, my parents being busy with him..

I feel like I'm better for it though and I'm quite happy go lucky/make the best of life type of person.Quite often I've heard people moaning about a child in public, and it will be a child that I've identified as probably having SEN.

Peaceloveandbiscuits Sun 27-Jul-14 19:26:47

My brother, born in the late 80s, was suspected to be autistic and went to "special school". He was hyperactive and always getting hurt and needing stitches. I remember very clearly my mum losing her (very short) temper with him, and it affecting me and our other sibling negatively, e.g. we'd all be punished for him acting up, or mum would say things like, "if you don't stop being naughty, you'll have to go and live somewhere else", which was obviously upsetting for us all. I think my mum also had PND, so it must have been a really dark time for her. When my brother eventually started talking I remember I'd get really annoyed with him because he couldn't pronounce my name properly. I was only about six or seven myself, though.
Anyway, he went to mainstream school eventually and although he still has some quirks and a very slight speech impediment, he's just your average fella nowadays; he works and has a girlfriend.
We didn't treat him any differently, he was just our brother, not "our brother who has special needs". I don't know whether it helped us to celebrate diversity and treat everyone respectfully, as I'm sure we would be that way inclined regardless.

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 27-Jul-14 20:17:04

This is an interesting thread for me in 2 ways.

My Dsis was born with Downs Syndrome and with that various heart problems. Unfortunately she died at the age of 18 nearly 12 years ago.

Also DS is diagnosed with autism and has a statement for school. Plus we think there are traits in DD2 (but at not quite 3YO its early days).

I suppose my sister did get more attention, but I never felt left out. I think though my parents gave her more attention, but gave me more material possessions. I did feel more pressure on me to get good grades and go to university.

Ive always been worried at the back of my mind what I was going to do when my parents died. I had my own life and not sure if I wanted to be her carer in our adult years. Looking back now I do feel guilty for those feelings, but I dont know if thats because its not an issue anymore. Knowing my mum though she wouldn't have wanted to me to have to take Dsis in.

Me and my Dsis were never that close though, but not sure if that was anything to do with Downs or not.

Ive grown up understanding that there is nothing that is "normal" and everyone is a person whether they are NT or not.

FrontForward Sun 27-Jul-14 20:33:37

Humding You are not horrible. Your parents are short sighted.

I am like Hum and Storm except my sibling has a care plan in place for when my parents die.

Growing up my life was different because my parents were always exhausted, always short of money (mum couldn't work) and a lot of family events were 'altered' by incidents related to DSis. I think the biggest issue for me was my mum was permanently stressed and snappy. It prevented her being a loving close mum to me.

It did make me resilient, understanding of life not being 'perfect' and I became excellent at coping with vomit, poo and injuries with blood ++
It did give me a pessimistic view of life I think because so many life events did not end happily because of her needs (holidays/parties/Christmas etc)

What could they have done: Talk to me. They tried to make life 'normal' but tbh I wish we'd been able to all say 'this sucks' rather than jolly along. I also wish respite care had existed so they were not as exhausted and we had time as a family without her ….although this has it's own problems because of guilt.

DrJuno Sun 27-Jul-14 20:39:24

Best line I heard was "we are a family with a disabled child, NOT a disabled family".

Treat all children fairly - the child with SN must fit in with the rest of the family as far as possible. They are one member, not the lynchpin.

Respite care and quality time with the other siblings if possible.

Also from a family member: "there is no child so severe that they cannot wrap the entire family round their little finger if they want to."

As a result I don't think it affected me at all.

DrJuno Sun 27-Jul-14 20:46:05

Some of these posts are so sad.

No sibling should be put in the situation of carer, either of the disabled child whilst living at home or of an adult sibling after the deaths of the parents.

I think it's deeply unfair of any parents to put a sibling in that position, and to not have a care plan in place on the parents death is just negligent.

purplepickles Sun 27-Jul-14 20:59:24

My younger brother has downs, with some associated health problems, and I think some undiagnosed autistic traits.

As an adult I look back at my childhood and recognise that his disability likely kept us in some kind of poverty trap, and that maybe I had to put up with more than other kids my age (sharing my parents time, brother breaking things, showing me up in front of my friends by walking around naked and stripping in the street etc).. But those difficulties pale into insignificance compared to the love, light and humour he brings into our lives.

He's an absolute joy, we recently faced losing our Mum and knowing my Dad wouldn't cope my partner and I contemplated moving home to manage his care (this all happened way way sooner than expected as my patents are only in their early 50s). These were days I'd been dreading all my life, always unsure if I would be able to rise to the challenge. What this recent crisis taught me is that I have a ferocious, almost maternal love for him a s when faced with the reality of maybe having to take care of him I was ready to do it in a heartbeat, no resentment. If anything it would be an honour.

Thankfully Mum pulled through, but I'm planning to be much more involved in his care going forward.

shouldnthavesaid Sun 27-Jul-14 21:01:55

My sister's severely autistic. I don't resent her, however have been attacked by her too many times and have ended up pretty terrified of her unfortunately.

She has since said she is very jealous of me and that's why she attacks me, so I worry I should keep quiet in front of her and not mention things. She hates my birthday for instance, and has effectively ruined them a few times - worst being that she landed my mum in hospital and ended up in the back of a police car. She's threatened to kill me before - has threatened me with knives, threw a box of 12 coke cans at my head, bitten me, tried to throw me downstairs, threw glass at me.

I had to share a bedroom with her from her birth when I was sixteen months old until I was 21. I spent a year sleeping in the dining room on the sofa because she had screaming tantrums nightly, including nights that I had final exams for school. She would throw out my ornaments, pick dirt up off the floor and put it on my bed, coated stuff with nail varnish, gave my diary to her friends.. I had to go to bed at 11pm every night laterally as she wouldn't sleep before 10 - I wasn't allowed in the room until she was asleep.

I'm her joint guardian as my mum's disabled too and am entitled to no support with this short of what my GP offers. Family are unsupportive other than my mum. I've mentioned a couple of times to my work but don't want to make them pity me or anything.

I did go to young carers when I was fourteen, for a couple of years - but my family told me young carers provide actual physical care to people and as such I wasn't really one of them at all.

I suppose in some ways helping her and my mum has helped me - I've been told I'm a natural motherly person, and a lot of people say I'm very caring towards others. I work in a hospital and am falling over myself to help others. But I don't have a clue how to look after me at all or how to be normal, if that makes sense.

I have always felt that I'm not a good sister. I don't understand her needs very well and I don't always know how to help her. Sometimes we have fantastic fun and sometimes I love her. But I'm terrified of her more often than not and know the only reason things have carried on so long is because my mum's frightened of her too.

Thankfully in two weeks she is moving into full time residential accom, we will see what happens then and whether it helps.

shouldnthavesaid Sun 27-Jul-14 21:02:31

No, that's wrong. I always love her. I meant to say, love being with her.

bayrans Sun 27-Jul-14 21:13:29

I have a brother with severe physical and learning difficulties.

I was and continue to be a forgotten part of our 'family'.

Life absolutely revolves around him. I love him yet resent him in equal measure.

Things were so, so different back then, no support at all.

There will be sibling support for your NT child, perhaps activities and days out especially for them (for a change).

I know I sound bitter and I am. I freely admit that. My brother robbed me of my childhood (way too much to go into) and continues to rob me of my parents today.

Whatever you do, love equally. Take time to take interest in and praise and love all of your children.

Keep all of their school photos, all of their drawings and art and specially made Christmas/Easter/celebration decorations. Can you tell that mine were discarded? Bet you can guess where his ended up.....

FrontForward Sun 27-Jul-14 21:20:23

I think one thing is clear and that is that disability is so varied that the impact on family members is also varied.

Coping with violence and aggression is very different to coping with a loving sibling who needs care

I do not have a relationship with my sister as such because she is not able to engage with me. As a child she shouted and hit me. I love her and care about her but my feelings are very complex and probably only managed by the fact that my parents try to minimise impact on me. I think they are heroic and a lot of my concerns are about them. I cannot imagine what it has been like for them.

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