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Support for Siblings of Children with a Serious Illness or Disability: Insights from Clinical Social Worker Monica Handlos from Pediatric Home Service

photo of support for siblings guest, Monica HandlosWhen a child has complex health needs or a disability, all family members are affected. Healthy, typically developing siblings often experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, sadness, anger, confusion or guilt. But Monica Handlos of Pediatric Home Service is helping provide support for siblings by helping them find common ground with other children facing similar challenges, guiding them to understand and manage their feelings and helping them and their parents navigate the uncertain path they are traveling. Tune in to learn what to watch for, how to encourage healthy coping and why groups that provide support for siblings are so helpful.


Do you have a child – or know a child – who has a sibling with serious health problems or a disability? How do you think that experience affects the child in both positive and negative ways? What did you learn in this Mom Enough show about ways you or others could help this child?


To learn more about Pediatric Home Service’s Sibling Support program, click here.

To view a brief video a parent discussing her child’s experience with Sibling Support, click here.

For Pediatric Home Service’s blog, click here.

For our ME interview with Dr. Roy Maynard of PHS, click here.

Comments: 4  |  Reply  |  Category: our shows
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  1. Carolina Falaiye on January 26, 2017

    Thank you for this information. I am a mom of 2 boys. My 4 year old son is in the Autism Spectrum and his brother is 2 years old neurotypical. I didn’t realize these kind of groups are available to help my little one cope with his brother’s disability. When would you recommend me looking for a group for my 2 year old? I assume he is still too little and doesn’t understand as much yet. But I would definitely like to get him the support he needs as he grows older.

    Again, thank you for these awesome words of encouragement 🙂

  2. Monica Handlos on January 26, 2017

    Thank you for your comment, Carolina! PHS’ Sibling Support Program is for children ages 6-12. If you feel your younger child is in need of support after he turns 6, please reach out to us. If you feel that he is struggling to understand, having an increase in behaviors or other concerns in these early years, consider individual therapy. Individual therapy through the use of play may be able to address your child’s needs before he reaches the age for the support group. PHS offers both Individual and Group Therapy.

  3. Meghan Landis on February 6, 2017

    This is something I think would have helped me greatly as a child. I have a sibling who is severely disabled, and it’s affected me in so many ways, even as an adult… Do you know of any support groups or resources available for adults that are similar to your program?


  4. Monica Handlos on February 7, 2017

    Hi Meghan! It’s too bad that you didn’t have a sibling support group to help you work through your feelings as you grew up with your sibling. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any support groups for adults specific to medically complex siblings. Maybe you could check with your local church, community center or local group homes to see if they know of any support groups. Good luck in your search to find the support you need!