Q: Should we consider family counseling to help family members deal with a child/sibling with a disability?

A: Many resources exist to help families cope when a family member faces a disability. Some communities have support groups for various disabilities which offer seminars and libraries for members. Another option to consider is family counseling using a counselor who specializes in family counseling and disabilities. Keep in mind that the focus of the counseling may change over the years.

At first, sessions may focus on helping parents and siblings understand and accept the diagnosis. Later sessions may show parents how to advocate for their child(ren). As children and siblings get older, a discussion about how the disability affects the life of the family may be helpful. As a multiple, your children may have questions about why one or more of them have ongoing challenges and others do not; in addition, they may have difficulty negotiating peer acceptance in a school setting especially in the preteen years. Families must decide what the expectations of siblings are in terms of caring for the disabled child.

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