The Sibling Journey

No one knows you like your sibling. Throughout life, there are good times and hard times, even if a disability is not in the picture.  Yet growing up with a sibling with disabilities has some unique concerns that researchers, parents, and siblings themselves often describe.  For example, siblings:

  • often feel undue guilt about having caused the illness or disability, or being spared having the condition.  They need information about the disability or illness throughout their lives.
  • often feel isolated when they are excluded from information available to other family members, ignored by service providers, or denied access to peers who share their often ambivalent feelings about their siblings
  • sometimes feel resentment when the child with special needs becomes the focus of the family’s attention or is permitted to engage in behavior not allowed other family members
  • perceive pressure to achieve in academics, sports, or behavior
  • take on increased caregiving demands, especially for older sisters
  • worry about the future-their own and their sibling’s
  • are proud of their siblings and feel positive about their role as siblings

More Insight into the Journey

Thicker Than Water   Essays by adult siblings of people with disabilities. Edited by Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops® and expert on sibling issues

Bound by blood, but not always by love, a sibling can be your friend or rival, defender or detractor – sometimes simultaneously! But what’s the impact on that bond when one sibling has a disability? In this thought-provoking essay collection, thirty-nine adult siblings reflect on how their lives have been indelibly shaped by their relationship with a brother or sister with special needs.

thicker-than-water-coverThicker than Water reveals both positive and negative aspects of growing up with someone who might have received the lion’s share of his parents’ attention or who now requires extra support as an adult. These compelling essays express a diverse range of sibling experiences and attitudes. Contributors range in age from 20 to 70 and have siblings whose disabilities include Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, seizures, visual impairment, fragile-X syndrome, intellectual disability, or mental illness.