What can I do for siblings of children with Arts syndrome?
A child with Arts syndrome demands a lot of time and focus from parents. Although studies have shown that siblings of children with chronic illness tend to develop strong levels of compassion and empathy, these studies have also shown that siblings can develop feelings of jealousy and anger and high levels of anxiety. It is possible for healthy siblings to feel as if they have been pushed aside when parents focus more of their efforts on their child with a chronic illness. Parents should encourage healthy siblings to discuss their concerns and feelings about living with a sibling with a chronic illness. It is important for parents to acknowledge and address these concerns with their healthy children. Healthy siblings can feel more included in the family structure when they help with the care of their sick sibling. Parents are encouraged to make time for activities specifically for healthy siblings. Some siblings may benefit from support outside of the immediate family, such as meeting with a therapist. The Sibling Support Project is a nonprofit organization that serves the concerns and needs of siblings of people with special health, developmental, and mental health needs. There are also regional support groups for siblings of children with serious health conditions. Your child's pediatrician or your local hospital may be able to tell you if this type of support group is available in your area.
Houtzager BA, Oort FJ, Hoekstra-Weebers JE, et al. Coping and family functioning predict longitudinal psychological adaptation of siblings of childhood cancer patients. J Pediatr Psychol. 2004;29(8):591-605.
Barrera M. Siblings of Children with Rare Diseases are Psychosocially Vulnerable. [PowerPoint]. Vancouver, BC: Sibling Appreciation Day Children's Organ Transplant Society & Rare Disease Foundation; 2012.