Siblings and school culture

February 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our school communities can be a difficult place to fit fit in for kids with needs and their siblings.

Typical siblings are affected because often they feel a sense of responsibility for their sibling with needs. As parents we tell the typical sibling that their only job is to be a kid themselves – but they still carry a different weight on their shoulders than peers.

How does this affect their school day when they are on the bus, at recess or just passing each other in the hall? In my family it has been a blessing when my kids have been in the same school.
For other families I know it’s a struggle.

As a parent is is surreal to raise a typical child and a child with needs in the same school. I know personally my son is older and has had an easy time in most facets of school. He paved the way for my husband and I to learn the school culture in a pleasant way. With him, I have not needed to fight with the school or get calls home that he’s been disrespectful or not working hard enough – it’s nice. But 3 years behind him is my daughter and it is not even close to the same “culture” I have experienced with him. It’s not nice. It’s not welcoming and sometimes it’s a little hostile. It is so hard to go to a school function that is supposed to be fun for you and your child when days before you had been in a long heated IEP meeting. Everyone feels uncomfortable and that stinks! It takes away from the joy.

I am not sure how we fix this or if it’s even possible – but it’s something to consider.

I think it’s important for school staff to remember that with the student they are working with who has needs is an entire family trying to support them and make sure they have a good experience with school culture, at least as good as their typical siblings.

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