Too long forgotten, we aim to help siblings feel less isolated and more empowered when it comes to unique issues they care about as siblings. Whether they are involved as a child, teen or adult, WisconSibs programs focus on siblings networking with others who share similar joys and concerns, and connecting with sources of information they need in their unique roles.
Longer than parents, therapists, doctors or care givers. As Sibshop creator Don Meyer says, “When provided with support and information, these brothers and sisters can help their siblings with disabilities live dignified lives from childhood to their senior years.”
Information is key, but other concerns also are important to recognize, like feelings of guilt and isolation. Concerns about the future and the stress of caregiving. Then there’s resentment, confusion, embarrassment, responsibility, a huge pressure to achieve. It can be a lot to handle. Do they need sympathy? No way! Often just knowing that others share the same concerns can affirm a sibling and allow them to grow with confidence and pride in themselves and their sibling.
Medical advancements, shrinking social service dollars and longer life spans of people with disabilities means siblings will likely have responsibilities previously played by parents or institutions. They serve as advocates, listeners, caregivers, guardians, and much more. That not only benefits their sibling with disabilities, but also benefits taxpayers who otherwise could be called upon to support even costlier social services.
Relationships between brothers and sisters can grow and change, and then change some more. Sometimes difficult, always interesting. Giving opportunities to celebrate, enjoy or start sibling traditions, and supporting resilient relationships is a joyful result for siblings and for WisconSibs.
Even the hardest days that we’ve been through I love my brother so much and I believe siblings provide each other the most powerful connection to the world. – Sister of young man with autism
Why do you care? Are you a sibling? Are you raising siblings? Do you work with siblings in caring for people with disabilities? Tell us your story. Just contact us by email or phone and watch this space for upcoming stories.