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So You Have a Sibling With a Disability....

According to Psychiatry Advisor, the 2011 US Census Bureau reports 2.8 million children living in the US have disability, and a significant portion of those children have at least one sibling. So, you are NOT alone! (*I'd be wiling to bet that since that census was 8 years ago, and since statistics of autism are on the rise - 1 out of every 68 children - that number is probably much larger.)

It always comforts me a little to know that I'm in good company. When I look around and see that there are many who share some of the same things I am going through, it strengthens me because I know I can develop a support system if need be. Your perspective on things can really change your outlook. Since the numbers show that there are many of us, you can choose to look at this a couple of ways: "misery loves company" or "I am surrounded by many who understand what this is like." Oh, and trust me.....there is a definite way that this life and your sibling will impact you in ways you don't even realize for your entire life.

Now, I am not going to be all rainbows and unicorns in this blog. I'll share with you triumphs and tragedies. Victories and frustrations. Joys and sorrows. However, I will always try (at least) to make you smile, in spite of however difficult life may seem. It would be a lie to say to you that sometimes, your sibling that is impacted by a disability isn't going to consume your families time and energies, frustrate you, anger you or even make you sad. Let's face it...your relationship isn't what most will have with other siblings. You will even occasionally grieve this relationship. It is a loss. For a sister who may be planning her wedding and wish with all her heart that her sister could share in the planning of her big day, to the brother who may just wish he could go to a football game or go fishing with his brother, this is a loss. It will not be a typical relationship, but it WILL cause you to be a more compassionate, more patient, more understanding individual as time goes on. You will figure out how to still be able to do things with your sibling in a way that you BOTH will enjoy.

If there is one thing I hope, it's this: Joy can be found in the worst of situations. Sometimes it is blatantly obvious and other times you will have to really, really.....and I mean REALLY look for it or even wait for it. According to the website,, it desribes joy as an emotion and the physical benefit of it for our bodies. You may be tearful (you've heard of tears of joy, right?) , euphoric, with a deep sense of contentment, and more.

On a scientific level, we feel joy in our neurotransmitters, which are tiny chemical “messenger” cells that transmit signals between neurons (nerves) and other bodily cells. This benefits our circulation, digestion, and our general well being. So, laughter really is the best medicine!!

As we navigate this blog, let me encourage you to take time for yourself. We've all heard the saying, "you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself." So go for a ride and get a coffee. Take a nap. Go shopping. Go to a sporting event. Go to dinner. Or, if you can't do any of those things, go for a ride in your car, find a remote spot and just chill in the car! (**I've done that!!) Let me tell you something: you're going to be required to do many things others won't have to, either by choice, by request or by default so be good to yourself when you have to be. There is nothing wrong with that!!

You are a vital part of your family. You are valued and important. You are understood and from my family to yours, we applaud you for being the champion that you are! Now, go hug your brother and/or sisters.

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