A Study of the Relationships and Acknowledgement of Non-Disabled Children with Disabled Siblings

By Aksoy, Ayse B.; Yildirim, Gonca Berçin | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, September 2008 | Go to article overview

A Study of the Relationships and Acknowledgement of Non-Disabled Children with Disabled Siblings


Aksoy, Ayse B., Yildirim, Gonca Berçin, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


Abstract

This study investigated the relationships of healthy children with their handicap siblings and analyzed their acceptance of the siblings. The study was conducted in 16 different special education and rehabilitation centers in Ankara. Two hundred twenty eight healthy children between the ages of 10 to 17 years voluntarily participated in the investigation. All participating children had siblings diagnosed with one of the six disabilities: Learning disability (LD), mental retardation (MR), cerebral palsy (CP), mental- motor retardation (MMR), Down syndrome (DS), or autism (A). The attitudes of the healthy children towards their handicap siblings (EKYTO) and towards other handicap people (EBYTO) were studied. Results show that healthy children dispay positive attitudes towards their own handicap siblings whereas less positive attitudes towards other handicapped people. The investigation takes into consideration diagnosis and degree of the handicap. In general, it is observed that the healthy children's attitudes towards their handicap sibling are clearly changing according to diagnosis and level of handicap whereas the same factors do not make any difference in terms of attitudes towards other handicapped people.

Key Words

Sibling Relations, Relations with Handicap Sibling, Attitudes Tended to Handicap Child.

Human beings seek out social support from birth. In order to be able to feel physically and psychological healthy, people need friends on whom they can trust and siblings are the best way of meeting this need (Goetting, 1986:704).

The family is a basic social entity comprised of individuals who are related to each other through blood relation, marriage, and other legal means, and who generally live in the same household, where all social, psychological, and economic needs of these individuals are met, and their adaptation to and participation in society is ensured through mutual interaction. The family structure has established behavioral patterns resulting from repeated behavioral patterns within the family, which ensures interaction of the family members as well as establishing rules for this type of interaction. The family system functions through subsystems established by the individuals. One of the major sub-systems is the sibling sub-system (Atasoy, 2002:29). Compared to other social relations, the relationship between siblings is a clear way to hold on to one of the most important periods of life through physical and emotional links. Although siblings have a lifelong relationship, they use the power resulting from the link they have created in others' social relations as well (Powell & Ogle, 1985; Buhrmester & Furman, 1990:1388; Girli, 1995:11).

Studies on the nature of sibling relations are generally in three categories: (i) the developmental changes of younger siblings, (ii) sibling relations during late childhood, and (iii) sibling relations during adolescence (Dunn & McGuire, 1992:69). Dunn and McGuire (1992) defined sibling relations as an emotion-based special relationship, which starts developing since birth, and having a separate and stronger structure than the other relationships.

It might be more supportive for older children to play advanced imaginary games with their siblings in terms of emotional and cognitive development. It is a very common view that the siblings will instinctively treat each other in a more protective and caring way (Dunn, 1983:797; Yavuzer, 1998:166-167; Primoglu, 1996:21).

Having a disabled child in a family will definitely have an impact, whether positive or negative, on the structure and functionality of the family system, as well as the relationship of the family members with each other and the roles they play within the family. Problems among siblings may be caused by perceived qualifications of the "superiority" or "inferiority" of one of them. A non-disabled child having superior qualifications compared to his/her disabled sibling may exhibit "excluding" or "protective" behaviors towards the disabled sibling (Içöz, 2001:2; Dunn, 1988:124). …

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