It is important that children have accurate information about their sibling’s diagnosis, including dispelling any misconceptions they may have. How you tackle the conversations about their brother or sister will differ depending on their age. You may want to use books and other resources depending on their stage of development and the following tips will also help:
* Be clear and concise and honest, using age appropriate language and concepts.
* Provide the information necessary to convey the ‘facts’ as they pertain to the siblings life, e.g. what the child with special needs requires and why e.g. any equipment or supporting aides, modes of communication, environmental changes, or other support, and discuss any altered appearance or behaviours displayed.
* Whilst you want to show compassion and understanding for everyone involved, don’t be apologetic for the sibling’s diagnosis or their needs.
* Ask your child what they think their sibling’s diagnosis means and ensure that their understanding is accurate.
* Offer ways that your child can help if she chooses to, making it clear that it is an option.
* Provide an opportunity for your child to meet peers who have a sibling with the same diagnosis.
* Convey the importance of your relationship with your child, regardless of their sibling’s needs.
* Ensure that your child knows that there are no ‘correct’ feelings or thoughts in response to their siblings diagnosis or needs and that you are always willing to talk with them.
How to help your child have the language and confidence to share the diagnosis with their friends:
* Ensure that your child has an accurate understanding of their sibling’s diagnosis.
* Speak with your child about what they want their friends to know.
* Role play the conversation with your child, including answering questions their friends may ask.