Monday, October 24, 2011

Down syndrome: what do siblings think?

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Often one of the concerns of parents whose child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, 
is that it will burden the other kids down the road. 
They think the child with Down syndrome will need too much attention, thus taking it away from the other children, 
and when the parents are gone, the siblings might be the ones to take care of their brother or sister with Down syndrome.

But do siblings really see their brother or sister with Down syndrome as a burden?

Not according to this study:

Having a brother or sister with Down syndrome: Perspectives from siblings.

This study asks brothers and sisters about their feelings and perceptions toward their sibling with Down syndrome (DS). They analyzed valid and reliable surveys from 822 brothers and sisters whose families were on the mailing lists of six non-profit DS organizations around the country. 
  • More than 96% of brothers/sisters that responded to the survey indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with DS; 
  • 94% of older siblings expressed feelings of pride. 
  • Less than 10% felt embarrassed 
  • Less than 5% expressed a desire to trade their sibling in for another brother or sister without DS. 
  • Among older siblings, 88% felt that they were better people because of their siblings with DS 
  • More than 90% plan to remain involved in their sibling's lives as they become adults. 
  • The vast majority of brothers and sisters describe their relationship with their sibling with DS as positive and enhancing. 
© 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc. 

Patti from "A Perfect Lily" had her older children share about their feelings about this subject in this very touching video:

I remember talking to one mom who told me that she and her husband were debating whether or not they would keep the baby they were expecting, knowing that he had Down syndrome, when her older boy, who was 12 at the time, came in, and overheard the conversation of his parents. 
His response?
"Of course we are going to have this baby, he is our BROTHER!"
So touching!
And, I am happy to report they didn't terminate the pregnancy, and he is the best and most proud big brother that this little toddler with Down syndrome could wish for!

I have heard a lot of parents say that having a sibling with special needs made their other children better people.

These things have been very encouraging to me! 
And, looking at my oldest 2 girls and how they adore their baby sister makes me very happy and supports the findings in the study I mentioned above...

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