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The effect of disability on families: analysis of the subjective experience of brothers and/or sisters

Review

for families with disabled children, for those who are disabled themselves, and for those around them. Turning away from a clinical support model is slowly bringing a new perspective to disability, important legal documents are being published that regulate and establish advanced ideas and provide help for a disabled child and his family. However, we have to admit that in a family where someone is disabled more attention tends to be paid to the one with disability, to the exclusion of the rest of the family. However, behind every disabled child, there is also a family with parents and sometimes brothers and/or sisters. The latter are left to deal alone with the consequences of disability, without any help from the adults who have their own crisis and must cope with difficult and emotional experiences, battle with material shortages, their changed position in the job market and stigmatising attitudes. The goal of the article is to reveal the subjective experience of brothers and/or sisters when one of children in family has disability. The qualitative research has been executed in order to answer the question of the research – what kind of impact effects family relationships when there is a child with disability? Four 15-40 year old participants who had brother/sister with disability in their family growing up with their parents were taking part in the research. The obtained data has been analysed according to thematic analysis method. The data from the research has revealed that children who have disabled siblings overcome a wide range of emotions. Disability in a family raises many questions about siblings' positions in a family. However, the siblings of a disabled child try to find answers on their own and overcome strong emotional experiences without sharing them with anyone. The participants of the research felt less loved because of their sibling's disability, had feelings of inferiority and lacked parents' attention and understanding. Because of a disabled sibling the participants of the research felt they had been stigmatised by their peers, neighbours, relatives – people in their immediate environment. Children who have experienced living with a disabled sibling have a developed sense of responsibility, self-independence, and tolerance towards others. Recommendations for social workers and parents who have not only disabled child but also one or few healthy children in their family have been supplied in this work basing on data of the research.

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