The Child Brain Injury Trust has always seen brain injury as something that impacts the whole family. The support we offer has never been limited to just the child who has acquired a brain injury. We pride ourselves on being family focused and flexible in our approach, tailoring our services to meet each family’s unique circumstances.
As such, supporting the siblings of the child with an ABI is a big part of our work, and this May we are going to be highlighting this, as part of Action for Brain Injury Week.
We have so many resources from fact sheets to e-learning sessions that address sibling support, and more new fantastic materials in the pipeline. We have consulted the experts in this area, those children and young people who have grown up with a brother or sister who has a brain injury, and we thank them for being brave enough to share their stories and advice.
Try to think what it would be like in those early days, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, your child has been taken into hospital with what could result in a lifelong brain injury. Your family is in turmoil, who is going to be where and when? Who is collecting this child or that child from here or there? There is so much to juggle, as this Mum explains.
“I went into practical mode at hospital. I told my daughter she should stay at home and we would find someone to be with her. Fobbed her off, that’s what I think now. I shoved her to one side so I didn’t have to worry about her. I hope it didn’t feel like that for her. It was never meant to be that way. I couldn’t reach out to hold my precious girl to let her know that I loved her even though it seemed that I didn’t. I wanted to hold my daughter but I wanted to know what was wrong with my son and that took priority then.”
Brothers and sisters may feel forgotten about, or that all these conversations are going on around them but – nobody has time to explain what all this means. They may feel guilt, albeit irrational guilt that they weren’t there at the time or guilt for thinking about themselves with all that is going on. Also worried, they will feel very, very worried.
It can sometimes be much harder for a young person to express how they feel. How children react will largely depend on their age and understanding of the situation, as well as the kind of support that is available to them. Having the chance to talk to a parent, relative, family friend or another person that they feel comfortable with can make a huge difference and ease the burden for them.
Our team of ABI Coordinators will also be on hand, to offer support and to explain brain injury in a way children and young people can understand. To order a siblings pack, simply contact your ABI Coordinator.
There are a lot of additional resources available to you, right now, on our website:
Impact on the family e-learning https://www.cysalesteam.com/childbraininjurytrust/event/recorded-e-learning-impact-on-the-family?embed=1
Impact on younger siblings, support strategies
The Child Brain Injury Trust also produces a book called “Rearrange your brain” for siblings under the age of 10. This can be obtained from the Trust on 0303 303 2248 or ordered from our website shop.