How do you talk to you other young children about your childs special needs?

Nicole - posted on 11/19/2008 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I know its hard for my 7 year old to have a brother with special needs. How do I talk to him about this and validate his feelings without him thinking there is something horriblely wrong with his brother?

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Nicole - posted on 11/26/2008

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Thanks for the advice, I am still figuring out how to use facebook so just got back here, I will try talking about his differences. My 7 year old is bright and already knows that his brother is different. I think he needs more information.

Leah - posted on 11/21/2008

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I agree with Marie that there really are no 'right' answers. I had to explain to my oldest at a very young age that his little brother had some differences. We needed to use patience and understanding. Fortunately, our oldest was very compliant, for the most part. Then we had our daughter, and finally our fourth child. We realized that as with our oldest, there was something a little different with our youngest. They both had developmental delays and severe speech problems. That meant explaining to the other two, quite often, that every is defferent and some people's brains are just 'wired' different. I also explained that there are people that have other types of challenges, heart problems, diabetes, etc.



I'm proud to say that all of my kids are very understanding and loving toward anyone that has a challenge or disability. In school, they made sure their friends treated their siblings (and other kids with disabilites and challenges) with care and understanding. Granted, there have been some pretty rough times. There have been frustrations at the difference in treatment, I think that's understandable and normal. I've just explained to them that that's the way it should be and the way it would be if they were the ones with the disablities. (they were older than 10 when I explained it like that) I have also tried to reassure all of my kids that I love them all deeply, but for different reasons and I stated them when they seemed to have doubts or wondered about 'favorites'.

Marie - posted on 11/20/2008

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Well, this is a great question and a hard situation with no "right" answers. My oldest son is missing part of his 22nd chromosome and has some obvious differences. He had a cleft lip and palate and he is very smal (so there are physical differences that are easy to see) and his speech is VERY difficult to understand (so that is another obvious difference. My 4 yo has Asperger Syndrome. He would loose control over things that seemed "silly" even to my 7 yo. So, there were times where they each wanted to know what was "wrong" with the other. I tried to explain in the simplest terms possible. A good example would be trying to explain Aspergers to a then 6 yo. He felt that his brother got his way all the time. I had to explain that his brother's brain worked differently than most peoples and because of that he needed things to be the same every time we did them. I told my older son that it can be very frustrating for him and for me to have to do things the same no matter what the circumstances. I told him that I loved them both, but had to do what was best for both of them. I told him that he was a great big brother and my big helper and asked if he could please help me help his brother. He was really agreeable. I think it was because he realized I knew it was hard for him and presented it as though we were all working together to help his brother. I think you use words like "different" instead of "wrong". I think you emphasize that, while most humans' bodies work generally the same, some of us are born with big differences, but all of us are different than each other. Explaining the chromosomal deletion was harder, for sure, but I just used the same general concept explaining what his differences were and what we all could do to help. Good luck. I hope this was not hugely confusing and maybe a little helpful. :)

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