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Karen Wang
BY Karen Wang

20 Perks Of Having A Sibling With Special Needs

Siblings of children with special needs do not have it easy.  Many are forced to grow up at a very young age.  They learn about health and behavior issues, accompanying their families to endless medical and therapeutic appointments. rodrick rules

Not only is the sibling relationship affected, but parents usually have less time to spend with their typically-developing children. When the siblings reach adulthood, one sibling may be expected to take on increased responsibility as a caregiver.

There’s also a positive side to having a sibling with special needs.  Recently I’ve been reading the hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid series with my younger son, who had no idea brothers could be cruel to each other like they are in the books.

I had to explain why and how a sibling would plan an elaborate, mean-spirited prank.  I told him true stories about my own brothers, too. Now he’s starting to feel lucky to have an older brother with autism, who is generous to a fault and always appalled by the idea of hurting another living creature.

So what are the benefits of being the sibling of a child with special needs?  Here are 20…so far.

  1. He doesn’t know what a noogie is, and he doesn’t want to know.
  2. He says yes every time his brother asks him to share candy.
  3. Trampoline, giant yoga ball and slide in the living room.
  4. Recreation = therapy.  That means a family swim every week and season passes to the zoo, science museum and Cedar Point.
  5. Cedar Point provides him with an autism pass, and certain other theme parks like Knoebel’s give him a wristband to skip all the lines with a family member.
  6. National Parks Access Pass.
  7. Pets are therapy, too!
  8. He has a strong work ethic and no concept of demeaning others for sport.
  9. They each get their own room because of sleep issues.
  10. Everyone remembers us everywhere we go.
  11. Mental map of every playground and public family bathroom within 15 miles.
  12. During homework time, mom doesn’t notice what the sibling is doing.
  13. Parents know when it’s time to drop everything and give full attention to the sibling.
  14. Alternate viewpoints are accepted and encouraged.
  15. The sibling is on the fast track to earning all of the Disability Awareness awards in scouting.
  16. On vacation, we say yes to every souvenir photo and roller coaster ride photo, because they help with forming autobiographical memory.
  17. Unlimited iPad time while mom talks to doctors and therapists.
  18. Big celebrations for little milestones.
  19. The house is fully stocked with art supplies, three types of play dough and materials for science experiments.
  20. Making a mess of shaving cream in the bathroom is encouraged.

Please share more benefits in the comments below!


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Karen Wang

Written on May 11, 2015 by:

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"
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