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Identify siblings within your school, service or local authority

In order for siblings to get early support and prevent problems with wellbeing and educational attainment it is vital to know what the level of need is within your service or area.

Assess the needs of siblings at the same time as those of the disabled child

Siblings are at risk from falling through the gaps in current legislation for children and young people. Do not assume that a sibling’s needs have already been assessed by other professionals. Look out for signs of changes in siblings at future visits. Use Sibs checklist for parents and ask siblings themselves about how they are.

Protect siblings from harm

A significant number of siblings are hurt by their brothers and sisters who have aggressive behaviour. Ensure that you have undertaken a risk assessment for siblings and that statutory support is in place to keep a sibling safe.

Acknowledge the role that siblings play in their families

As well as identifying things that are hard for siblings and that they may need support with, it is also hugely important to value siblings’ skills and attributes that they have acquired through their relationships with their disabled brothers and sisters e.g. being a great advocate or teaching new skills to their brother or sister.

Provide siblings with age-appropriate information

This includes information about the condition and about any treatments or therapies their brother or sister is having. If you are not able to meet with siblings, ask their parents to encourage siblings to make a list of questions for the next meeting or consultation.

Signpost siblings to sources of support

Signpost siblings to YoungSibs online support service and help them access any local sibling support available.

Help parents support siblings

Signpost parents to sources of support and talk to parents about practical strategies for supporting siblings. Host a workshop for parents in your organisation.

Provide short breaks for siblings as well as for disabled children

Short breaks for disabled children allow parents to spend one to one time with siblings and for siblings to have a break from their brother or sister. Siblings also need to have breaks themselves and this should be discussed with siblings to find out what they want.

Run a sibling group at a school or at your service

Peer support helps siblings cope better with the challenges they face on a daily basis. Attend Sibs’ training for sibling group leaders and learn how to set up a group to help siblings share experiences with others who understand.