My family is made up of 5 people: Me, my husband, and our three children. We are the perfect family setup to have a child in the middle—one who may feel, and be, left out.
I always heard stories about the “middle child.” Especially at school. I have heard adults and children who are middle children explain how they sometimes would feel left out as they grew up. Stories that express how the older child would naturally reach milestones first and receive a lot of attention for those victories. And the baby, who received a lot of attention because, well, they are the baby—the last child, the smallest, and a lot of times the neediest. I have also read articles and books on the subject and they relayed most of the same information.
So naturally, I was prepared for my daughter to be and possibly have “middle child syndrome.” I was happy to think that she had a brother on each side to help “protect” her. But I mostly worried because she was the middle child, the only girl, and our only child who is adopted. I was concerned she would act out to battle for attention.
Boy, was I wrong! Fast forward to 12 years later. I am dealing with my youngest child and his acting out. In trying to figure out what’s going on with him, I realize that he has “middle child syndrome,” not my daughter.
She has so many time-consuming medical needs, and I am her primary caregiver. My oldest son is 16, just got his driver’s license, his first job, and his first girlfriend.
All of this to say that many of our families that have a child or children who have a disability also have “family dynamic” changes that are unexpected.
But with each day we get smarter and stronger and learn to be flexible. We are a dynamic, atypical family who marches to the beat of our own drum.
Explore more about Siblings of Children with Disabilities on this website.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.