Brothers and sisters can also feel under a great deal of pressure. At times they may feel jealous, show signs of anger or make hurtful remarks to their brother or sister with a learning disability because of the extra attention they need. Younger siblings may sometimes show bad behaviour because they are frightened that the disability could happen to them.
As a parent, it can be difficult to make sure the needs of all your children are equally balanced, and it is important to let your other children know that they are valuable members of the family, even if you are not able to spend as much time with them. Some parents have told Mencap that they were worried about explaining learning disability to their other children, in case it upsets them even more. However, in many cases being open and honest allows siblings to gain a better understanding of their brother or sister and the reasons for their behaviour.
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?'
As siblings get older, they may feel embarrassed when talking about their brother or sister or when introducing them to friends. Some siblings may also be bullied because of their brother or sister's disability. If your child asks you for help, you may want to explain more to them about learning disability, or suggest they invite their friends round to meet their brother or sister. Some siblings may also want some space to spend time with their friends on their own.
If you think one of your children is being bullied because of their brother or sister's disability but they do not want to talk to you, you could suggest they speak to another adult they trust, such as a relative, teacher or family friend. The organisation Sibs also offers support for brothers and sisters of disabled children and adults.