When People Stare at a Brother or Sister

This content is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Having a sibling who is blind or has low vision, sometimes with additional disabilities, can draw public attention, leading to stares or questions from others. This can be uncomfortable for their brothers and sisters, often causing feelings of embarrassment, anger, or shame. Here are some strategies to help siblings cope with these situations:

Explaining People’s Behavior

It’s important to help your children understand why people might stare or ask questions. Often, it’s due to curiosity or discomfort, not an intention to be hurtful. Explain that many people haven’t encountered someone with a disability and are trying to understand the differences or the equipment being used, like a braille book or a magnifier.

Model Responses

Your reaction to public attention sets an example for your children. If you respond to stares with a question or an explanation about what your child is doing, such as using a cane, your other children might adopt a similar approach. Modeling a variety of ways to engage with questions and curiosity of others will help your child have plenty of ways to respond to different situations.

Practicing Responses

It can be beneficial for siblings to practice how they’ll respond to common questions or stares. Role-playing scenarios like answering questions about blindness or explaining why their sibling touches objects can prepare them for real-life interactions.

Permission to Step Away

There are times when siblings might need a break from the public eye. Let them know it’s okay to step aside for a few minutes if they feel overwhelmed. This also includes the option they do not have to answer questions if they choose not to. Modeling and showing appropriate responses including stepping away is an acceptable boundary.

Connecting with Peers

Meeting other children who have siblings with disabilities can be comforting. They can share experiences and coping strategies. Consider reaching out to your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments for connections to such groups. Look into conferences or local groups that your child may find beneficial, support, and enjoy being with others who have similar diagnosis.

Social Strength

Navigating public attention towards a sibling with blindness or low vision can be challenging for children. By understanding why people react the way they do, modeling appropriate responses, preparing for common situations, allowing breaks from the public, and connecting with peers in similar situations, siblings can learn to manage and cope with these experiences more effectively.