In Step hosted a “Siblings of Special Needs Kids” workshop led by Melanie Kaplan, LCSW, this weekend at our Sterling office. It was a huge success and I asked Melanie to talk a bit about what the kids discussed and to put a date on the calendar for another session.
“The workshop was a great! The kids were all very open and happy to talk to each other about shared experiences. I heard a plethora of “I can relate to that”, “Oh yeah, me too!”, and “that definitely happens to me”. The discussion was so lively and helpful that I hated for it to end.
We spent the majority of our time in discussion about what it’s like to live with a sibling with special needs. Topics that came up from the group included; feelings of wanting to protect your sibling, feelings of resentment, feelings of the unfairness of family time/resources spent on the sibling, embarrassment in public situations, and feelings of anger about mistreatment/misbehavior from the sibling. All of these feelings are natural, normal, and expected from siblings of kids with special needs. This was a wonderful opportunity for them to vent, feel heard, and know that other kids are experiencing the same things.
We also spent some time discussing how they can all de-stress and care for themselves when things are particularly hard with their siblings. Each participant came up with a Self-Care Plan for things they could do to care for themselves. They also each left with a master list of de-stressing activities from other group participants. The kids expressed a desire to meet up again and this time talk about communication within their families and how to express what they need. I am hopeful we can add new kids to the group to expand on the idea that other families have similar struggles.”