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The interaction between people with Down syndrome and their siblings: an exploratory study


The presence of a disabled person causes transformations in the family that demand a redefinition of the role of each member. Siblings, like all other members, experience frustration, acceptance, guilt and adaptation. In this respect, an attempt was made to; (a) analyze the interaction between a sibling with standard development and a sibling with Down syndrome; (b) identify what information and reaction the siblings with standard development have regarding the diagnosis of Down syndrome; (c) verify whether or not there were changes in the family context and also changes in their own lives after the birth of the sibling with Down syndrome. The survey was conducted through interviews, the participants being seven children with standard development having siblings with Down syndrome. The study showed that the siblings, as well as the other family members, experience processes of acceptance, confusion and other complex emotions related to the disability, albeit they are not as marked as those experienced by their parents. A fact revealed in this study is the importance of support groups for siblings, seeking to handle issues such as prejudice and adverse feelings towards disability. The siblings with standard development must have correct information, as well as support, in order to foster healthy interaction between siblings.

Siblings; Down syndrome; Family

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