books for siblings of special needs kids

Recently, I was at my son’s school and talking with one of his classmate’s mom.   We were chatting about the challenges of having multiple kids so close in age.  She also has two boys. so we spent a few minutes just discussing the challenges of having boys (!!) and of course all the fun amidst all the chaos.   We parted ways after our brief chat only to meet again a few minutes later in the parking lot.  I saw that her mother and her other son were waiting in her commercial van.  When I looked a little closer, I noticed that the son in the van was severely disabled.  By then Jai’s friend and he were high fiving and saying their goodbyes all over again.  I scooped up Jai into our van and I heard his little friend get into his van and happily scoot in to greet his brother with their own version of high fives and hugs.  His brother squealed and shrieked with excitement.  Jais’ friend was so proud and exclaimed, “Jai, this is my brother!”  And Jai was equally excited to say hi with all smiles.  We waved again and went our own separate ways.

Later that night, I got to thinking about what it must feel like…in addition to the feelings of love, pride and just happiness that comes along with having a sibling in general.  But what does it feel like for kids who have special needs siblings…they face many other challenges too.  Parents might spend a lot of time away from them taking care of their siblings who need more attention, who might have more doctors appointments and therapy.  The focus is shifted and sometimes the needs of siblings are overlooked for the child who needs very obvious help physically or emotionally.  They might feel added jealousy, frustration, fear.

I ran into this mom again last week.  We had a longer conversation.  I told her I was a blogger and she told me it was her mission to help others in similar situations in whatever ways she could.  Not just help for the sibling with the special needs but for the siblings who are often overshadowed too.  She asked me to post someday about a couple of books that she’d been recommended, hoping that other families would benefit as she and her own family have.   Someday is today and so here they are.   Hope they help someone out there – share with others you know can benefit too.


Understanding Sam

Answering the question Why is Sam different?, this heartwarming story tells of the challenges of living with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. This firsthand view of the life of an undiagnosed child presents behaviors and characteristics that are common among children with this disorder. Sam doesn’t like his pancakes to touch, his sister is annoyed with his repetitive song, and his new coat hurts his skin, but once he is diagnosed, teamwork-based support helps Sam’s life become a little easier. With endearing illustrations, the book includes 10 helpful tips geared toward children, showing them how to respect and accept differences as well as to interact with a classmate or friend with Asperger Syndrome. It includes 10 tips which show children how to respect, accept and interact.

We’ll Paint the Octopus Red

As six-year-old Emma anticipates the birth of her new baby brother or sister, she vividly imagines all of the things they can do together. Emma feels ready to be a big sister! Then when the baby is born, her dad tells her that it’s a boy and he has something called Down syndrome. Finally she asks, “If Isaac has this Down thing, then what can’t he do?”. Her dad thinks about it, then tells her that as long as they are patient with him, and help him when he needs it, there probably isn’t anything Isaac can’t do. In this touching story, Emma helps her father as much as he helps her to realise that Isaac is the baby they dreamed of. The book concludes with a set of commonly asked questions about Down syndrome with answers for children and how it might affect their sibling and family. For ages 3-7.

Riding the Bus with My Sister

In the ten years since Rachel Simon first invited the world to board the bus with her and her sister, Cool Beth, readers across the globe have been moved by their story. Now, in an updated edition with fifty pages of new content, Rachel Simon reflects on changes in her life, Beth’s life, and the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The highlight is Beth’s update, which is in her own words. A new Reader’s Guide is also included. Join these two unforgettable sisters on their journey, this time in an even deeper and richer way.

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