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Brothers and sisters

If your child has a vision impairment, it doesn't just affect them - it can have an impact on other members of the family too.

Young sisters and brothers may be full of questions, and you might need to explain what's going on. As a parent, you know your children better than anyone else. But the guidelines below may help.

Understanding vision

  • Brothers and sisters may not notice differences in the ability to see until they are pointed out to them.
  • Explain what vision is: it's one of the senses, it's a way of getting information, and so on.
  • A doctor, teacher or support assistant could help you to explain about different sensory disabilities or eye conditions.
  • Explain that all blind and partially sighted people are different, and that there are many kinds of vision impairment.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Start simply (for example, say “Sam doesn’t see like you do”) and then be led by their questioning.
  • Children will usually only ask questions when they can cope with the answers. Keep it simple and only answer what the child asks about.
  • “Why is Sam blind?” It’s OK to say that no-one knows, if that is the case.
  • Whatever the reason for the vision impairment, it's important to explain that it is no-one’s fault.
  • Clear up any misunderstandings or myths that your child hears from other people - for example, "blind children have better hearing".
  • Encourage your children to come to you if others have told them things about vision impairment that they don’t understand, or that doesn’t match what you have told them.

Organisations that offer support to siblings

Sibs is a UK charity which supports and represents the needs of siblings of disabled people. Siblings have a lifelong need for information, they often experience social and emotional isolation, and must cope with difficult situations to others their age. More information is available on the Sibs website.