The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that nearly 1 in 12 U.S children aged 3-17 have disorders relating to speech, language, voice or swallowing each year. Of these children, many have siblings, leaving parents with the challenge of equally dividing their time, energy, and attention between all of their children in their given family.
Denise Underkoffler, a speech-language pathologist, recently wrote a book entitled “Everybody Needs a Turn” addressing the role of siblings within these family structures and explaining the challenges siblings may feel within these roles. Underkoffler explains that similar to parents, siblings of children with disabilities often experience an array of emotions pertaining to the given disability. Siblings may experience helplessness, jealousy, and frustration as they may feel isolated, forgotten, or misheard given the extent of the disability. Underkoffler explains that parents of children with disabilities may find that they unintentionally place a larger focus on their children who have a greater number of needs, leaving typically developing siblings with less needs to feel underrepresented. In her book, Underkoffler provides practical tips for managing these challenges common to many families who experience varying forms of disabilities.