Sibling Disposition Towards Children With Special Needs

Sibling Disposition Towards Children With Special Needs

Prithi Venkatesh Mondreti (All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, India) and Malar G. (All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4955-0.ch006
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The background research leading to this chapter probed into the nature of disposition and dominant patterns of feelings displayed b typically developing siblings towards children with special needs arising out of communication disorders. The resultant findings may contribute of facilitation of constructive relationship between them. A survey type of research design was adopted for the purpose of collecting relevant data from primary caregivers of 34 children with communication disorders resulting from either sensory impairments, or neurodevelopmental disorders. An emotional-behavioral rating scale including 10 common dispositions of siblings towards children with special needs had been developed for the purpose following review of relevant literature. The caregiver-participants were to rate the frequency of manifestation of the emotions of behaviors described on a four-pointing rating scale of never, sometimes, often or always. Other relevant information like number of siblings, order of birth, gender of children with special needs, as well as educational and socio-economic status of the caregivers were collected. Analysis of the data revealed feelings of concern and care predominantly prevalent among siblings of children with special needs. Nevertheless, there is scope for further shaping the positive dispositions into constructive behaviors that support optimal development of children with special needs.
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Importance of Family in Development of Children

The word ‘family’ might seem to be a simple, single word, but it has multifaceted implications attached to it according to the perspective in which it is being described. The plainest definition describes it as a group consisting of biological parents and their offspring living together as a unit. Further, deliberations may vary according to the economic, cultural, social and several other aspects depending on the context under consideration; but the common aspect among the members in every family is their mutual love, affection and significance of those people who belong to their family (Blessing, n.d.).

Children imbibe their natural behaviors from their families. Research indicates that the development of positive behaviors in a young child is significantly influenced by how well his or her family functions. Childhood dependency on caregivers not only helps children in fulfillment of immediate life needs, but in the long run also helps them imbibe the characteristics and values observed in the family. These in turn help children develop the ability to handle demands and crises in life drawing from the psychological resources gained from early family experiences (Mahalihali, n.d.).

For a child born into a family, it becomes the first social institution executing the primary role of fostering a healthy environment where the members are committed to each other and communicate frequently and fluently without impinging into each others’ freedom or space. Thereby family becomes the field for initial social exposure for a child that shapes his/her self-worth, attitudes, values and behavior; thus playing a crucial role promoting skills, morals and values among children (Swindoll, n.d.).

The family further espouses the complex psychosocial development of young children to mature and function as integrated persons in their own right in the larger society outside the family. Through the care and attention tendered during their early years, families enhance the ability in children to discriminate between social, asocial and anti-social trends, strengthen their resolute to encounter and manage adversities, and thus enable them to establish stronger ties with people outside the family. Eventually, a conducive family environment wherein children’s material, psychosocial and emotional requirements are met helps them turn out to be both socially and psychologically well-adjusted adults (Rupured and Quick, 1989).

Ultimately as indicated by Family Pediatrics Report (Schor, 2003), “Families are the most central and enduring influence in children’s lives regardless of their education, composition, income and values”. The report further emphasizes that the interpersonal relationship within the family has far reaching consequences in the development of children and that those children who are raised by two parents who are both responsible and dedicated usually perform well in school.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Children With Special Needs: Children with special needs include those children with communication disorders arising out of hearing loss, autism spectrum disorders, or intellectual disability.

Survey Research Design: Gathering of information about complimentary and contradictory dispositions demonstrated by siblings of children with special needs with use of an emotional-behavioral scale.

Disability: Sensory disability of hearing loss as well as neurodevelopmental disabilities of autism spectrum disorders or intellectual disability.

Positive Disposition: Positive feelings, love, concern, compassion, and protection.

Siblings of Children With Special Needs: Brothers or sisters who could be elder or younger in the birth order to children with special needs.

Disposition: Attitudes and behaviors of siblings towards children with special needs.

Negative Disposition: Negative feelings, anger, immature behavior, and temper tantrums.

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