For the Famillies
Caring for a child or young adult with disabilities requires the full-time support and assistance of the entire family. Aside from companionship, therapy, and education, the ongoing special needs of a disabled person can also include dressing, feeding, cooking, shopping, driving, administering medication, and around the clock monitoring—all time consuming, labor-intense activities that easily cause family members to feel strained, burned-out, and most commonly, trapped.
No parent plans for the challenges of raising a disabled child, which leaves them unprepared and ill-equipped to handle such a situation. These parents have to improvise as they go, and eventually find themselves to be overworked, with almost no time left to tend to their marriages, their other children, their other relationships, or even themselves. Spouses frequently find themselves resenting one another—especially in cases where one parent must work away from home, leaving the other to care for their disabled child all by themselves. The emotional and physical toll can cause depression, illness, and low energy, and will oftentimes lead to divorce.
As family members in the same household, siblings are subjected to a range of issues they never signed-up for and find difficult to understand. After all, children require constant attention and guidance from their parents and are not meant to be raised as caretakers. When a child does not receive direction, he or she can develop anxiety and depression, and sometimes feel embarrassed by their disabled brother or sister. Siblings of persons with disabilities experience a tremendous sense of guilt, as if they were somehow “bad” or “insensitive,” and are either forced into the role of a co-parent or forced to abandon their home altogether.