Special time to call our own

MHDE-14-07-11 ACTION JUL10 (10)'Action for Children, Daventry and South Northants Family Centre, Staverton Road, Daventry.
MHDE-14-07-11 ACTION JUL10 (10)'Action for Children, Daventry and South Northants Family Centre, Staverton Road, Daventry.

FOR siblings of disabled children it can sometimes be a battle fighting for parents’ attention.

Many also struggle to understand their brother or sister’s condition and find it hard to talk about their own worries and concerns.

Now a charity has set up a new group in Daventry to help overcome these problems.

Action for Children, which supports youngsters across the UK, is running eight-week courses specially designed for siblings of disabled children.

The target is to offer support and give youngsters a chance to have fun with children in a similar position.

The course is running at the Daventry and South Northants Family Centre on Staverton Road, with another due to be set up later this year.

Group leader Sam Smythe said: “It gives the brothers and sisters a chance to enjoy themselves, and if they’ve got any worries this is a place where they can talk about them.

“We offer different activities each week which they all seem to enjoy, for example this week we had a worry box for all the children.

“Before setting this up we had feedback from parents that there’s lots to do for disabled children but not so much for their siblings.

“So the idea is to give them eight weeks of time out. It’s also really beneficial for them to meet other children in similar positions as they don’t always get chance at school.

“And they can learn more about their sibling’s condition. The groups are run across the county so children from Daventry can also go to other groups in Northamptonshire.”

The charity runs courses for different age groups for siblings aged five up to 17.

One of those currently attending the sessions is seven-year-old Luke Betteridge, whose five-year-old brother Owen suffers with chromosome abnormality isodicentric 15, which causes delays in language development and motor skills. Their mother Lisa Betteridge, 36, from Daventry, said: “Luke seems more confident and a little bit happier since coming to the group. He feels very isolated as none of his friends have siblings with special needs, and so he thought he was the only little boy to have a brother with problems.

“But now he knows he’s not and there’s someone he can talk to about it. He can come here and just be a kid. The group has also given Luke a better understanding of Owen’s disability.”

Luke added: “My favourite thing about coming is meeting all the other people. It’s very friendly and I find it helpful meeting other children who also have disabled brothers and sisters.”

Nine-year-old Ryan Adams is also enjoying the classes in Daventry. He has two brothers, six-year-old Connor and four-year-old Kyle, who both suffer with global developmental impairment, a condition which causes severe delays in mental and physical development. Their dad Nick Adams, 38, said: “I think it enables Ryan to talk about his concerns to people who aren’t in the family. He does approach us too but having that third person to talk to really helps as he sometimes may feel a bit anxious talking to us.”

Mum Sarah Adams, 34, added: “It has been good for Ryan, he’s really enjoyed it. It just gives him that space away from his brothers and is time where he can be the focus.

“Disabled children do take up a lot of time so I think Ryan does feel left out at times.

“I’d like to give him more attention but it’s very difficult so this group is very good.”

Action for Children can be contacted on 01327 705063.