Dyslexia can affect the whole of the family, including siblings.
As we have mentioned in an earlier dyslexia blog article dyslexia can often run in families. Research indicates that where one child in the family has been diagnosed with dyslexia, there is also a strong possibility that their sibling will also have difficulties – about 40%. As a result parents need to watch closely for any indicators of dyslexia in their other children and act accordingly to get them help if required.
In some families dyslexia can produce sibling rivalry.The child (or children) who isn’t dyslexic may often feel jealous of the dyslexic child, who gets the majority of the parents’ attention, time and money.They can feel angry and resentful. They may think incorrectly that the parents favour or love best the sibling with a learning disability.
Additionally, siblings are often asked by parents to undertake extra chores while parents are helping their dyslexic child with reading or homework. Some siblings may accept these extra duties willingly, but many may resent them and feel anger towards their parents and siblings.
Of course each child's personality and temperament play an important role in their response toward a sibling, including one with a learning disability. As a family, it is important to openly discuss dyslexia and its effects on individual family members and also try to resolve problems which it may produce.
The age of a sibling will be a factor which can affect their perception and reaction to their siblings’ dyslexia. An older sibling (especially girls) will often be more protective over a younger child with dyslexia. Siblings may feel the need to compensate for the child with the learning disability and to make up for that child's limitations. Siblings in many cases can assist their dyslexic brother/sister with school work and can be a useful source of help.
On the other hand younger kids will lack the intellectual understanding to understand everything about dyslexia. With younger children it might be useful to read a book about dyslexia to them .Their are many books available in English about dyslexia geared for children .One such book in Turkish is “Bende Disleksi Var”. ( Tubitak )
On the positive side siblings may gain from having a brother and sister with dyslexia .It may make them a more empathetic person with an increased tolerance for differences as well as a greater sense of maturity and responsibility,
Please remember a dyslexic child may resent their sibling(s) who do not have to struggle at school like themselves. It may affect their self- esteem when their brothers and sisters always come home with the high marks. As a result it is important for parents to help to try to develop interests and hobbies where their dyslexic child can feel proud of his or her achievements. Parents should also avoid comparing children and ensure they accept them for what they are. Parents should remember that each child is a unique person with their own strengths and weaknesses.