Message from the Executive Director

"Considerations for children with intellectual disabilities when they become an older sibling"

 Let’s think about what kind of considerations are necessary when a child with intellectual disabilities becomes an older sibling.

 Despite his language delays, boy A started to play the baby to his mother, demand help when there was something he needed, and maintained eye contact more and more. However, when he was 2 years old, his mother became pregnant. After his younger sister was born, things changed completely: he kept his distance from his mother and played by himself. When his mother comforted the baby, it put him in a bad mood. Other problematic behaviors appeared: obsessive behavior, wandering around aimlessly, a lack of new words, not turning around when people tried to talk to him, and doing things that would result in a scolding on purpose. The lively younger sister will cry out when something happens and keeps the mother busy. The mother can’t spend time with him as before, because she needs to feed her baby and change her diapers or clothes. Her mother is faced with great difficulties looking after both of her children.

 When a child like A with intellectual disabilities has younger siblings, they have difficulties behaving affectionately or being demanding to the mother. They can’t express their feelings in words, so the people around them have trouble realizing what they are enduring.

 This starts during pregnancy. Children are sensitive to the change in their mother’s body or attitude and feel pressure from the expectation to be reliable because they will become an older brother or sister. They are confused by the sudden arrival of a baby. Some become demanding to their mother during this phase, but others are not able to do this and hold back their feelings. Behaviors described above such as playing by themselves, wandering around aimlessly and purposefully doing things that will result in a scolding are considered “excessive tolerance” or “frustration or confusion of their affection not being accepted by their mother.”

 So then, how can we support children with younger siblings to be affectionate with and express their feelings to their mother with confidence on an everyday basis.
・The mother could give the shy, older child attention while looking after the younger siblings
 and send them a message such as calling their name or talking to them.
・The mother should give enough physical contact or joy through playing with them.
・When the younger siblings try to take the older child’s things, their mother should chide them.
・When the older child is in a difficult situation, the mother should spend time comforting him.

  I’d like mothers who have raised siblings to share their knowledge or tricks with mothers who are starting to raise siblings, by referring to their own experiences.

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