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Exploring the later life relationship between adults with cerebral palsy and their non-disabled siblings
journal contributionposted on 2014-04-01, 00:00 authored by Angela DewAngela Dew, Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Susan BalandinSusan Balandin
Purpose: Adults with moderate or severe cerebral palsy often require significant lifetime support from family and formal services. The aim of this study was to use a life course approach to explore how previous life experiences impact on the later life relationships of people with moderate to severe cerebral palsy aged 40 years and over and their non-disabled siblings. Method: Twelve adults with moderate to severe cerebral palsy and 16 of their non-disabled siblings were interviewed twice to explore their relationships. Constructivist grounded theory method was used to analyse the data. Results: Four themes were identified as important in understanding these later life sibling relationships: sharing childhood experiences, contact in adulthood, diminishing parental role and increasing support needs. Conclusions: The life course approach indicated that siblings' growing up together was important for the development and maintenance of emotional closeness later in life. Emotional closeness and familial obligation were important factors in motivating siblings with and without cerebral palsy to maintain or re-establish contact with each other in adulthood. Maintenance of sibling relationships in later life is dependent on health, proximity and the ability to keep in contact with each other.Implications for RehabilitationAs adults with severe cerebral palsy live longer, their relationships with non-disabled siblings often take on increased importance and particularly as their parents may be no longer able to provide support.Service providers have a role in helping ageing siblings with and without disability to maintain and build their relationships, for example, by supporting geographically distant siblings to keep in touch.Service providers have a role in supporting the person with a disability and their siblings to make plans for the future. © 2014 Informa UK Ltd.