Invisible children? The need for support groups for siblings of disabled children


Angie Naylor
Department of Sociological and Psychological Sciences
Edge Hill
St. Helen's Road
Lancashire L39 4QP


Previous research and first-hand experience suggest that a child with a disability can have a profound effect on family life. Although the need for sibling support has been acknowledged in legislation, the implications for non-disabled siblings remain unclear. In this article, Angie Naylor, lecturer in psychology, and Phil Prescott, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies, both based at Edge Hill, review a number of key themes emerging from the literature on sibling support. They go on to report the findings from an in-depth study of one sibling support group. The work was carried out in partnership with Barnardo's in the north-west of England and involved setting up a sibling support group, in response to an analysis of local need, and evaluating its impact. This research indicates a clear need for further service provision to meet the needs of the siblings of disabled children who attended the scheme. Angie Naylor and Phil Prescott argue for a reinvigorated debate about the needs of such children and champion the importance of listening to children and valuing what they have to say. The results of this small-scale evaluation project have clear implications for future research and, potentially, for policy and practice.