Canavan disease

Living with

What can I do for siblings of kids with Canavan disease?

Canavan disease demands a lot of time and focus from parents. As with similar disorders, it is easy for healthy siblings to feel as if they have been pushed aside. 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. Parents can work with siblings by having clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the family structure. Siblings can help with the care of their sick sibling. Parents are encouraged to make time for activities especially for healthy siblings and to talk with and encourage healthy siblings to address their concerns and feelings. Some children may benefit from support outside of the immediate family including therapists or doctors. 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.

SOURCE: Emory University - Department of Human Genetics in collaboration with ThinkGenetic • • DATE UPDATED: 2016-06-17


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.

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