Supporting the Siblings of Young Children with Disabilities


  • Lynda Warren Dodd

Address for correspondence
Lynda Dodd
Portage Home-based Teaching Service
Overdale Centre
Powicke Drive
Stockport SK6 3EF


In this article, Lynda Warren Dodd, who is senior educational psychologist for early years and the Portage Service supervisor in Stockport LEA, discusses the development of a support group for the brothers and sisters of young children with a wide range of disabilities. The group has been running, as an annual event, for eight years and offers a mix of socialising, games and group work. Through the group, the Portage Service aims to address some of the isues that emerge for families when there is a child with a disability. In order to evaluate the support offered to siblings, as well as to the child with special needs and their parents or carers, members of the Portage team gathered views from children and adults. Several key themes emerged from the comments made by children. All the participants enjoyed attending the sibling group. The children had varying degrees of understanding about their brothers' and sisters' disabilities. Some reported positive attitudes while others described the negative feelings they experienced in relation to their siblings' special needs. The parents also tended to value the sibling group and most of them asked for the provision to be extended. Lynda Dodd sets her account of this evaluation in the context of a constructive review of the literature on the sibling experience. She closes her article with a valuable summary of the implications of her work for future policy and practice in this important and often neglected area.