I can’t stand my disabled brother! Silent struggle of siblings of the disabled

We experience many emotions supporting and caring for disabled family. We learn to understand non-verbal cues, and can tell what facial expression means I love you and what twitch or head turn means pain. Hugs are absolutely life giving. In fact, we often talk about the joys and close bonds that come with our roles in the lives of disabled family and friends. We give that love unconditionally and usually without complaint. However, there can be a silent struggle for siblings of the disabled. Having a brother or sister with a diagnosis can leave siblings feeling like they don’t have a voice. They can become afraid of their feelings of jealousy over the attention their brother receives from dad. They can feel invisible when their sister has a tantrum and their mom drops everything to help her manage her behavior. Indeed, all the meetings, planning, care, and travel may make siblings feel like the only way they can get attention is to act out themselves. For siblings of the disabled, with all that internal conflict they may not be able to express how they feel.

How do I support my non-disabled child

As parents with disabled and non-disabled children, we have a tremendous juggling act to perform. We need to balance the needs of both children with vastly different needs. There are resources available for you and your family. You and your child do not have to struggle in silence. One resource is a Maryland program funded by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council
SibShops are events where siblings of people with disabilities can meet other sibs (usually for the first time), have fun, laugh, talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sib with special needs, play some great games, learn something about the services their brothers and sister receive, and have some more fun. Learn more about SibShops here.
If you are in an area where SibShops are not currently held and are interested in organizing a SibShop but don’t know where to begin, or are ready to host a SibShop but need some funding to make it happen, contact:
Michael Lewis, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, at (410)767-3669 or [email protected]

While this is one available option, don’t be afraid to start your own support network. You can reach out to other families and arrange play dates with all the children (disabled and non-disabled) where they can share stories and feel supported. You can also reach out to one of the programs listed below under EXTERNAL RESOURCES.

If you have a group feel free to share it with Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.



Mom. Dad. You’re messing up… and it’s OK. Disabilities and parenting perfection. And imperfection.

SETH TALK – the social worker and the IEP parent

Activities and events for disabled children – KEEN Greater DC special needs activities

You have depression. So what. We all get depressed sometimes.

Where is Seth’s Mom? Gateway to Success Learning Center

Today we are all Seth’s Mom – Happy Mother’s Day

5 Truths About Maintaining a Loving Relationship When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Parents Love Resource and Support Group

SETH TALK -Makeia Kelly sets up 9th grade IEP

TOPIC: Children of a biploar parent. What is your story?

Sick leave to care for disabled family: Maryland Healthy Working Families Act



Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.


External Resources

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Sibling support group: Sibling Support Project

Sibling support group: Sibling Leadership Network

Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD