3 children sit on a blanket in the grass and smile at the camera with big grins.
2020 | Courtesy of Meghan Morse Photography

How to Talk With Siblings About Disability

How should I talk with my typically-developing kids about a brother or sister who has a disability? As the mother of an 18-year-old with Down syndrome with two younger siblings who are typically-developing, I’ve learned two things.

The first is to normalize and neutralize the language of disability.

We don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed or worried about using words like disability or describing in factual terms what the disability means in our child’s life. We talk about the particulars of Penny’s experience of disability—whether that is low muscle tone or what we call her “challenge with flexible thinking” (others might call this stubbornness). Honest, non-judgmental conversation helps everyone to talk about disability as a natural part of what’s going on in our family.

Secondly, we use the language of challenges and gifts to describe each of us.

Each one of us has challenges—we have certain things that we’re limited in and certain areas where we struggle. We also, each one of us, have gifts. We have things that we can offer. Using the language of challenges and gifts helps everyone in our family to recognize that we are different, that we have something in common, and that we need one another.


Subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter,  Pinterest, and YouTube, and you can subscribe to my Reimagining the Good Life podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

Share this post

Leave a Reply