Having a child with a learning disability can have a massive impact on the whole family. Brothers, sisters and other family members may struggle to come to terms with the diagnosis, and as a parent it can be hard to juggle your own emotions along with everyone else's.
Many parents have told Mencap that they have lost touch with close family members after a diagnosis, just at the time they were relying on them for extra support. Passing on the details of support organisations, or recommending counselling, are 2 ways of helping family members to come to terms with a diagnosis in their own time.
Siblings can also face specific challenges when their brother or sister has a learning disability. Understanding their condition can sometimes be confusing, and it is normal for siblings to feel angry and upset when they realise their brother or sister can't do some of the same things they can. Some parents have told Mencap that their children have faced bullying as a result of their sibling's disability, and have felt too embarrassed to bring their friends home after school.
Our older son loves his brother but he will ask: ‘why did he have to have autism', ‘why won't he play football with me' and ‘why does he do the things he does?'
In many cases, having a child with a learning disability will have a drastic impact on the amount and quality of time you have available to spend with your other children. They may also have their own concerns about the future, but feel unable to talk to you when you are under so much pressure. If they need someone to talk to, the organisation Sibs offers support for brothers and sisters of disabled children and adults.