The 21st Show

“The forgotten piece of the whole picture”: Supporting the siblings of children with disabilities


Siblings of special needs children often get less attention, face more parental expectations, and may struggle with their mental health. Being a caregiver or growing up alongside a disabled child often comes with many concerns for the child and their well-being, but also, concerns with managing one’s own social and emotional health. 

While symptoms range widely in children with special needs and can affect everything from physical and motor skills, like cerebral palsy, to learning and processing — such as dyslexia and ADHD, and they can also relate to speech and behavior.

The 21st was joined by three guests who have navigated these dynamics to talk about the different aspects of these unique relationships.


Lauren Kamnik

Parent of children with special needs from Deerfield

Nikki Donnelly

Ph.D. Student, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana | Early childhood special education teacher | Advocate | Sibling of a someone with autism

Brian Donovan

Creator, “Kelly’s Hollywood” | Actor | Filmmaker | Public speaker


Prepared for web by Owen Henderson

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