Global Developmental Delay – A Sibling’s Perspective
- October 19, 2023
- Posted by: gl0b4dm1n
- Category: Global Developmental Delay
While there may be some trials and tribulations of growing up with a sibling that has Global Developmental Delay (GDD), there are so many positives that have helped both me and my brother to grow and view the world in such a different way that people with an outside perspective may never be able to understand.
I have never really felt less important than my older sister, though some things were made more difficult. It has never really been ‘her way or the highway’ and I have never felt isolated or left out when making decisions, even ones as simple as what we have for dinner.
Being only a few years younger than my older sibling with GDD, we had a similar level of mental and physical ability for the first few years of my life. It is only when transitioning through primary and high school where we were set apart. Simple things such as asking her for help with my homework (which most older siblings had learnt about just a few years ago) wasn’t possible. Though this made things slightly tougher for myself, I can only imagine the frustration she had when I started doing things which she still couldn’t do, surpassing her abilities at quite a young age.
The only real thing that bothered me when going through primary school was the question “What’s wrong with your sister?” The answer to this was always “nothing”. Which I really felt was the truth. She may have been slightly different to the rest of her peers but there was never anything ‘wrong’ with her.
I have found that over the years, her mental capabilities haven’t progressed as well as others, especially when she is upset or angry, often having difficulties expressing her feelings, without the capability to explain why she is upset or what we can do to help her. Also, with her limited fine motor skills, she can get frustrated quite easily, losing her patience and screaming out when she is unable to complete a level in a game or doing a puzzle causing a distraction throughout the whole house. This can be linked to the use of aggression as a coping method (though very rarely). Since my sister is the oldest of all the grandchildren in our extended family, she was given all the attention as a baby and when I was born, losing this spotlight had quite an effect on her. We are often told a story of when I was a baby and was left alone with her for a few minutes, only to be found on the floor crying as she tried to punch me (thankfully she had so little strength at that point that it had very little effect on me). We all laugh about this story now, but it gives us an insight into how GDD has an impact on children and their siblings.
She also has some simple speech issues such as not being able to pronounce ‘r’ sounds which I always found quite humorous as well as being an absolutely horrendous singer, bringing a smile to everyone in the family when she randomly bursts into song at home. Things such as this have firstly taught me to control my emotions, but also to show a higher level of support than I normally would. Keeping her confidence high is vital to her happiness and making fun of her speech issues or any other issues can be detrimental to her day-to-day life which can have a knock-on effect to the whole family.
Being in my HSC year now, I do have to make take some time out of my schedule to tend to my sister. Things such as driving her out to art or cooking classes which she can’t get to on her own limits time my time to study, rest or go out with friends, sometimes creating issues for myself or my parents when I simply don’t have the time to take her. Now that she is out of high school, her opportunities to make friends have become quite limited. Instead of going to university or a face-to-face TAFE course, she has gone straight into the workplace meaning all of her colleagues are older than her. Going to these classes are the only real opportunity to socialise and make friends with people her own age.
Ultimately, growing up with a sibling with GDD hasn’t had a negative impact on my childhood. Both me and my brother have always been allowed the opportunity to play sports or do extracurricular activities at school. We have grown to support her and be proud of the young woman that she is today, never failing to amaze us with what she has achieved, showing that the obstacles that come with Global Developmental Delay for a whole family can be overcome.