Children and teens who have siblings with special health or developmental considerations share many unique concerns and joys. Understanding that they are not alone is important.
That’s where WisconSibs can help. We offer a variety of programs in northeastern Wisconsin that provide them opportunities to meet other kids who have siblings with special needs, including the award-winning program called Sibshops. NEW! Sibshop for kids who have siblings with mental or emotional health concerns.
We also provide summer camps and other opportunities for young siblings that provide information, leadership skills, respite and lots and lots of fun.
For resources and books centered being a young sibling, check out our WisconSibs Resource Library under the Resources tab.
By age 7, Christiana had already learned much about taking care of her four-year-old brother who had physical and cognitive disabilities. She clearly knew that he wasn’t learning the skills to become independent like the sisters and brothers of her friends.
One day as she and her mom were kicking a soccer ball around the yard with her brother (she helped him balance in his walker and move his leg to kick the ball), she asked her mom out of the clear blue: “When you and Daddy die, will I be taking care of Phillip?”
Her mom was expecting that question someday…but thought it would be when she was age 17, or 27… not 7.
Young children have questions. They need information. While parents can be prepared to answer questions, children benefit from talking with other kids about their questions, their unique concerns and the joys they experience as siblings. Siblings who attend WisconSibs programs benefit from networking with other siblings from other families.
by Cate Ellis
“If you kids out there that have a brother or sister with a disability ever feel alone, just know that you’re not, because there are millions of kids that are like us. It’s easy to feel alone, but there are lots of kids out there that are just like us – we just need to connect with each other.
“When my sister Addie was first diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RTS for short), I felt like I was alone and that no one knew what I was going through, I was strong, there were a bunch of kids for me to connect with that I am now friends with who have a brother or sister with RTS. It’s great to meet kids that feel the same way that I feel or have gone through the same things I have. READ MORE.
Over 60% of children who have a sibling with cognitive disabilities expect to take care of their sibling when they become adults.
Even very young children understand that they play a role in their sibling’s life. Siblings are important role models for their brothers and sisters, their classmates, even other relatives. They also quickly become important advocates and often caregivers for their siblings. By recognizing that their “typical” children need support, parents can help ensure these experiences are positive and their children are prepared to cope with challenges while celebrating the joys of having a sibling with special needs.