Many children who have a disabled sibling miss out on their parents’ attention

Children who have a brother or sister with special needs or disabilities are missing out on their parents’ attention and family activities.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 1:58 pm
Many children with a disabled sibling miss out on their parents' attention

Sheffield Parent Carer Forum surveyed more than 700 parents of children and young people, aged up to 25, with special educational needs or disabilities.

More than 80 per cent of parents said having a disabled sibling had a negative impact on their other children.

A lack of parental attention was identified as the biggest issue (68 per cent), followed by missing out on family activities (46 per cent), a negative impact on sibling mental health and/or emotional wellbeing (43 per cent) and disrupted sleep (41 per cent).

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One parent said: “Over 90 per cent of our attention is given to our son with SEN. Over 90 per cent of any disposable income is also spent on him. This means that opportunities that his siblings earn for themselves can’t be taken up.”

Another parent said: “They have to limit what they can do due to their sibling’s sensitivity to noise which makes them annoyed. They also get hurt by them.”

The Forum’s State of Sheffield report says: “Having a sibling with SEND increases children’s risk of isolation.

“Almost a third of parents said that siblings were missing out on activities, such as sports clubs or social events, or could not have friends over.

“Thirty-four per cent of parents reported that siblings felt resentful towards their brother or sister with SEND.

“Over 60 per cent told us that they found it difficult, very difficult or impossible to take part in everyday activities as a family, such as visiting friends or relatives, going out for a meal or going on holiday.”

But almost half said there had also been a positive effect, and it had made their other children more considerate, patient or understanding.

The report says short breaks provided by Sheffield Council and the Clinical Commissioning Groupare essential for ensuring siblings get to spend quality time with their parents.

The full report can be read here: