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Understanding the Effects of a Birth Injury on the Family

Birth Injuries Affect the Whole Family

Caring for a child with a birth injury demands a lot of time, attention and financial resources, especially if the child is severely handicapped. The challenges of caring for a special needs child can affect the entire family.

Parents and caregivers of children with serious birth injuries will experience stress that can lead to caregiver depression or caregiver burnout. The struggles of paying for health care and rehabilitative services, as well as the day-to-day struggles, can be daunting and tiresome. Families will need to learn to deal with these overwhelming changes.

Sitting down and talking about these issues can help families cope with raising a child with special needs. Who will take care of the child during the day? How can we adjust the budget to afford health care and treatment? What educational resources will be necessary? Addressing these questions upfront can prepare you when issues arise. Some families may find it helpful to discuss their issues with a doctor, experts in child education and other specialists who can provide more information about the child's long-term needs.

Siblings of Children With Birth Injuries

Siblings of children with special needs are especially affected by the birth injury. They can face ridicule at school for being the brother or sister of a handicapped person. They often feel confused, and sometimes abandoned, because the parents are spending extra time with their sister or brother. Some children may even wish that they suffered a birth injury just to get the added attention, or they may develop a sense of guilt for being born healthy.

It is important that children receive adequate, age-appropriate information about the birth injury. This can help them come to terms with the injury and what it means to struggle with it. It helps children understand why their brother or sister needs to go to the hospital, attend special classes at school and get other attention that they do not.

Additionally, a sibling's feelings need to be recognized. Questions and, yes, tantrums are a way of communicating emotions about coping with the birth injury. A parent should not dismiss these feelings of anger, grief or confusion over the injury. Children whose feelings are not addressed are subject to depression, anger issues and withdrawal. They may begin to have problems at school or with their friends because they believe nobody can relate to or understand how they feel.

Being a resource for these children as well as a parent is important. It is good to take some alone time with each child so no one feels abandoned. Also, recognize their accomplishments and unique characteristics so they feel special. Most importantly, keep an open line of communication. The more open parents are in talking with their children, the more the children will feel comfortable bringing up issues or questions about the injury.

For more information and resources, please see the Sibling Support Project. The Sibling Support Project is dedicated to meeting the needs of brothers and sisters of children with special concerns.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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