Supporting siblings of special needs children

In a family with a special needs child, the life of a typically developing sibling can be difficult. Often the sibling feels isolated and perceives himself or herself as second on the family’s priority list. Without a way to process their complex emotions, siblings of those with special needs often struggle in silence. University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s addresses the unique needs of siblings of children with special needs through its Sibshop program.

In Sibshops, brothers and sisters of children with special needs meet other siblings in a relaxed recreational setting where they can express their feelings and create friendships. At Sibshops, kids get to:

  • Meet other siblings who “get it”
  • Talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sib with special needs
  • Play games, laugh and have fun
  • Learn how other brothers and sisters handle sticky situations they face with their siblings
  • Learn about the services their brothers and sisters receive

Sibshops are open to children ages 8 – 13 with a special needs sibling. Currently these programs focus on children whose siblings have complex chronic conditions or are on the autism spectrum. Sibshops are free of charge and open to all. Attendees do not have to be patients of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s.

Sibshops are held quarterly with sessions typically scheduled in February, May, August, and November. Programming runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Eastside and Westside locations. For more information, visit or call the UH Rainbow Center for Comprehensive Care at 440-914-7840.