Being The Other One

I just finished reading Kate Strohm’s book Being the Other One: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister Who Has Special Needs.

When I told a co-worker a couple of years ago about my daughter having special needs, she said “My friend’s sibling had a disability and as soon as she was old enough, she and all her siblings moved away because they were so sick of being treated poorly.”

I thought immediately of my two other children at home and realized that they might need some special attention. Although I could never imagine them leaving town in disgust, I thought I’d better be proactive about it.

I read the book to see what adults that grew up with a sibling with special needs had to say about the experience to see if I was missing anything.

I didn’t have much sympathy for Ms. Strohm’s while I read the first half of the book. It reads like a therapy session for adults who attribute their problems on having a sibling with special needs. I suppose that would be helpful for siblings who felt all alone, but I was reading the book as the parent of children with a sibling with special needs. There were valuable lessons in the second half of the book where she shares coping strategies for parents, children and therapists.

Many of the strategies for keeping a marriage strong hit home for me and were sensible and matched with my experience.

The chapter on strategies for being a parent to children who have a sibling with special needs made sense, even for parents with children who don’t have special needs. The big surprise for me was that my children might think Precious’ disability was contagious (they don’t).

Overall, I did find the book helpful, but skip to the second half unless you yourself have a sibling with special needs.

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