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Non-ADHD Siblings in the ADD Family

Families are strange and wonderful things.

Some families seem to be almost clones. They all wear the same kind of clothes. The children look like miniaturised and freckled versions of their parents. Others seem to have nothing more in common than a genetic predisposition towards enjoying professional wrestling. In either case, all are connected by common experiences.

And the occasional flu bug.

Families with children with ADD or other special conditions are no different. It may be that only one child is ADD - however, it affects the entire family. How it affects the family is really up to the parents.

An ADD child requires more time and attention than a non-ADD child. There is just no way around that. The same is true of any child with special needs. So how do we make these accommodations without taking away from the other kids?

ALL children need to know they are loved.

It is crucial that your non-ADD child knows that you love him or her. Children cannot understand theoretical love- they need demonstrations. They need to be shown that they are important to you.

Take time to be alone with your non-ADD kids. Children in special Ed have a tough time, and to compensate for that we send them to special summer camps, to Special Olympics, special social functions... all kinds of stuff. We should do this. Often these are the only environments were they feel like they are truly among their peers.

However, the non-ADD kid may well begin to feel left out. Where is his special Olympics? Where is his trophy?

When is it his or her time to be with Mom and Dad?

MAKE the time to do something alone with this child.

Just the two of you, or better yet, if you can arrange it, with both parents. I would even suggest that you do something that you would normally not do if the ADD child were with you.

You shouldn't say "Gee, you know, since Johnny's not with us, we can really have some fun today." That would not be good. But, you can go fishing (a terrible sport for most hyperactive kids) or go to the museum (if your child is into that) or do something that requires a longer attention span and better social skills than your family normally gets to enjoy. This may require that you get to know your child a little better. What is he or she interested in? What would they enjoy? Respite care for siblings is every bit as important as respite care for kids.

Maybe even more so.

SHOW an interest in what the Non-ADD child is doing.

The ADD or LD kid comes home with a paper that has a "C" on it and everybody praises the kid and the family goes out for pizza. This is good. BUT the other child comes home with an "A" paper, and it gets tossed in the trash with the all the other "A" papers. This child is SUPPOSED to make A's.

Of course he is. But, do you know how many people don't do what they are supposed to do?

The Non-ADD kid needs motivation and encouragement too. Recognise his abilities. Sometimes, there is a big difference between an "A" paper and true quality work. You may even find that with just a little praise and encouragement, the "good" student may become a "great" student- that rare individual whose efforts actually exceed expectations.

He or she may even learn to spell... something that I have yet to accomplish.

Be Fair.

It is not fair to expect the Non-ADD child to tolerate having his toys broken, being yelled at, or hit, or anything else. The Non-ADD child has to learn tolerance and compassion, but the ADD child also has to learn that behaviour has consequences and that others do have rights.

Justifying the unacceptable behaviours of the Special Child merely serves to teach him to expect others to do the same through out his life. The Non-ADD child has had to accept this sibling as he is in a lot of areas, including not being able to have his brother (or sister) as a playmate like other kids in families do. It is not fair to tell him, as he is trying to put a favorite toy back together for the umpteenth time, that "That's just the way your brother is."

It handicaps the ADD Child and builds resentment in the Non-ADDer.

Show Love to Each of Your Children.

Show it in ways they understand. When it comes down to it, every child is special.

Written by Bob Seay who writes for ADDitude Magazine, there is much more useful information similar to the above at: 2004

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