There is much that a school can do to easily support a child who has a brother or sister with disability.
Disability in the family may not necessarily affect a student’s life at school. For some, it can be a respite for the challenges of home; for others, it can be an added stress. At different times in their school life, some children might experience:
- concern for the welfare of their brother or sister who has a disability
- difficulty finishing homework or homework being spoiled
- tiredness or poor concentration
- social isolation
- teasing or bullying by other students
- extra responsibility for their brother or sister with disability.
These experiences could result in misbehaviour or attention-seeking, isolation from peers or ongoing physical complaints such as stomach or head-aches.
The following documents might assist you to support siblings:
- Teacher Role
- School based approaches for siblings
- Siblings Australia – A Principal Parent Perspective
Several schools have used the evidence-based Sibworks program with a group of young siblings to enable them to connect with other children who understand. You could also share Tips for young Sibs, so they know they are not alone.
If you teach older children, the following blackballoonstudy guide might be useful for the whole student group to understand more fully the impact of disability. Also the following Sibling Factsheet MI was developed for young people who have a brother or sister with mental illness but it could be useful for all siblings.
You could refer parents to the parent page and to the document School choices. It is important to work with parents on ensuring siblings have the best school experience they can. It isn’t difficult – siblings just need some recognition and support.