The arrival of a new baby has a massive effect on any family, but there is a qualitative
difference when the baby has a disability or special needs. It has been likened to a ‘family
crisis’ (Russell, 1983). Jessie, the 3 year old above, understood little about her brother’s
physical disability, but was highly affected by her parents’ and grandparents’ distress and their
apparent distancing from her. As Dawn started slowly adjusting to Derek’s condition with
the sensitive attentions of her health visitor, her husband and the grandparents began regaining
their own strengths which could then be drawn upon to help her care for the two children.