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Sally Conway Co-ordinator for Family Services, Sunfield School
KellyJo O’Neill Psychology Assistant, Sunfield School, Worcestershire

Sally Conway and KellyJo O’Neill interviewed children and young people whose brothers or sisters attended one particular residential school to find out how this affected their lives. They found that many of the siblings were keen to have a more active involvement in residential school events and emphasise that this will help them to act as advocates throughout their lifelong relationships

The relationship between siblings is often lifelong, perhaps spanning 80 years or more. For those young people who have a brother or sister with special needs this relationship can become more of a burden than a joy. It is therefore extremely important that these young people are made to feel valued during their childhood, so that they can make the journey into adulthood alongside their sibling with special needs, feeling confident and proud. Many siblings can find themselves as the key advocate for their brother or sister when their parents are no longer able to do so (Zatopa 1994). This may not be a role that they would choose for themselves, and certainly is one for which many are unprepared.

Learning Disability Practice. 7, 7, 34-38. doi: 10.7748/ldp2004.09.7.7.34.c1587

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