Special Needs Sibling

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    I have a friend who has a special needs sibling, he is an adult in his 20th who is not quite “regular” but otherwise “normal”. Everybody knows he is special needs from how he looks etc. The family however kept the subject “taboo” until relatively recently, this was the parents way of coping. Some of the younger siblings are not very nice to this one and my friend doesn’t know how what to tell them as they don’t want to accept he’s special because they would then have to change their behaviour…

    Do any of you have any experience with special needs siblings?


    My brother is a special needs adult. As it was the two of us, it was very hard for me to relate to my brother past a certain age. It also was very embarrassing the questions I would get from my friends as to why he was still living in my parents house, had no real job, and no girlfriend. My parents did all they could to help my brother. He had and still has many social and learning issues. In our community it is a very big stigma to have a sibling with a special need with shidduchim. While I did not meet my husband through a shadchan I have no doubt it would have been an issue as to what disability my brother has and if it would be passed on to any children that I would have.

    I also understand what it is like to have an older sibling that you have surpassed. In some ways, I feel like I never had an older brother. It is very hard and psychologically draining to be the older sibling in some ways when the person is older than you are. I have no doubt that the younger siblings resent their older one in some ways, or at least are as tolerant of their sibling as the parents are. The parents most probably have their hands full with the other children that they are now unable to give the time and energy that they may have once given.

    Your friend should defiantly talk to her siblings about how she feels her brother is being treated. They need to learn to respect their brother as a person. It will not be easy. The parent should also seek counseling to help the family embrace their son as part of a the family and not as a “taboo” which needs to be swept under the rug. From experience, while my parents did the best that they could, they did the best that they knew how. My parents were sometimes harsh and unnecessarily critical of my brother which was in my belief more damaging than any condition. If your friends family does not fix any negative behaviors or attitudes towards the brother, it will effect him negatively for the rest of his life, and theirs as well.


    Thank you for replying rosesharon! Can you say you’ve accepted the situation now..? “I also understand what it is like to have an older sibling that you have surpassed…It is very hard and psychologically draining to be the older sibling in some ways when the person is older than you are.” This is one of the hardest points for child and family! It’s good to hear somebody understands it!!

    The problem is that the younger siblings find it very hard to accept because that will mean changing their behaviour which they don’t want to do.. But I think that with time they’ll grow older and take into account the “special” siblings feelings.. About making it “taboo” this was the parents way of dealing with it.. I suppose it many ways it made him more “regular” because he wasn’t treated differently but it is true that it resulted in less or no understanding from the siblings..


    Does anybody else have special needs siblings??? Can you share what its like for you??


    BINURYEINI ( HASC support group) just ran a workshop about sibs. Call to see if it was recorded or videotaped.


    i am a sibling. too much to say now but just know that the sibs need support just like the parents do


    yachad just had a “family” shabbatone last week where they had support group-like sessions for all the families of all the divisions. I didn’t go, but I heard it was really nice.


    As a person who married someone with a special needs brother, I can tell how much it has enriched the entire family. He is treated as regular as he can be under the circumstances. All of my children adore him and they don’t stop talking about him. In my opinion, it is very important to have people to speak to, who went through the experience and have come to terms with this challenge/ gift,


    Ohel Bais Ezra has sibling support groups- run very well! They combine activities, discussions, its a great way for kids to meet peers who also have sibs.

    you can contact them at [email protected]


    wow.. i would think that whoever has a special needs sibling would be an even better person because of it, and even better shidduch material!! is downs syndrome still a shidduch stigma today?? i cannot believe that..


    I think Down Syndrome is less of an issue today… But theres still definitely lots of stigma!


    Still a gigantic stigma. Some families have been known to give said children away at birth and then claim a miscarriage.

    Keep in mind, people say no to prospective matches for wearing the wrong color shirt or scraping plates rather than stacking them. All the more so if there are “defective genes” in the gene pool.

    If you have a special needs sibling, then expect a 2nd tier shidduch, unless you have some huge positive to offset the “negative” I.E. lots and lots of money.




    Many people give children away but usually only in the communities where that is encouraged. There are families who are ashamed of their children. And there are many people who look down and children (and families) with special needs, so you can not blame the families!

    Excuse me, but that is an absolutely untrue and offensive comment! Who said siblings will get “2nd tier” shidduchim?? There are MANY people who have siblings and are very happpily married even without the “huge positive”. I’d love to know where you got your info from!

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