Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Siblings Matter, Too

I was looking around the Twin Cities Arc website today and was noticing all the programming and other resources they had for siblings of individuals with disabilities.  All too often, brothers and sisters feel overlooked by their parents or others, stigmatized by their association with disability and isolated from others such siblings (as are people with disabilities)

Though I had heard of  "Sibshops" offered by the Autism Society, I hadn't realized that they have been going on for 30 years- my entire life!
It's strange, I used to not see myself as a sister of a brother with special needs- since they were similar to my own. I remember my dad exclaiming "Mariah, he's autistic!" when I grew impatient with my brother. Autistic people all have different  traits & issues we face, so sometimes when another autistic/Aspie's behavior differs from one's own it can be hard to understand.  My brother has some challenges that I do not, so does Dan's (my fiance's) younger brother. For example, I've had more problems with anxiety, and he has more trouble with taking the initiative (executive function).  Dan learned to read at 3 or so and was very verbal, but his brother had more difficulty learning to talk and read.
Plus little brothers are just annoying in general!

I have another friend who is on the spectrum, and also has Tourette's. She has struggled a lot getting through school and making her way into adulthood, but has a college degree, and has held a job and been married for years. Her older brother has the same labels but has never been able to do any of these things for long periods of time. His emotional problems are a lot more extreme.
Because of these factors I think Sibshops could certainly be of benefit to siblings that have disabilities themselves, particularly if they have milder conditions.

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