Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Down syndrome & Siblings

This week I'm tackling common questions and concerns that come up with the topic of Down syndrome for Down syndrome Awareness Month. Let's talk siblings today!

Many parents worry about all of the children they have (or will have) when their baby with Down syndrome is diagnosed. Many parents wonder if siblings will feel neglected because more time may go towards the child with Down syndrome. Parents may fear that siblings may not have a happy life or a good relationship because of delays or differences. These are valid concerns.

Dr. Brian Skotko (who has a sister with Down syndrome) has researched this subject regarding siblings who have a brother or sister with Down syndrome. His research reported that for siblings age 12 and over: 94% were proud of their sibling with Down syndrome, 88% said they were better people because of their sibling, and only 4% said they would "trade in" their sibling with Down syndrome. This research should be encouraging for families that have concerns.

In general, I think it's important to keep in mind that sibling relationships are all different even when there isn't special needs involved. Any brother or sister can have times when they love each other, annoy each other, and can't stand each other. Any child may feel that another is receiving more attention or love even when there's no diagnosis in the family. Sibling relationships are NEVER guaranteed to be perfect in any family.

But, on this topic of Down syndrome and siblings, I'll speak about what I've seen between Jaycee and Elijah. These kids love each other. They sit together on the couch. They watch movies together. Elijah loves to push Jaycee on the swing. Jaycee likes to rub Elijah's Mohawk. There are times though that they don't get along. Jaycee will sit in Elijah's seat and refuse to move. That starts some tension between the two, but it's short lived.

We respect the fact that Elijah may get mad at Jaycee or frustrated with her. We understand he may need special time with me after I've been gone with Jaycee for a hospital admission. We understand that Elijah's life is different because his sister has Down syndrome and health issues. But we don't believe he has a bad life because of her....just different. Different doesn't have to be bad; it can just be different. That's my two cents on Down syndrome and siblings.

For more on siblings, read this sweet guest post by one: Meet My Brother

This post is written for Down syndrome awareness month. Check back each day this month for a new post on some aspect of DS. 

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