If you grew up with a major disability, you'll know first-hand the effort and energy it can require of families.
There are medical appointments and medications to co-ordinate and in some cases, behavioral problems to manage, all very time and mind- consuming tasks.
So while all of this is taking place, who is watching the siblings?
For some the challenges are manageable, but depending on the nature and severity of the disability, the effects of being a very young “carer” can be felt for a lifetime.
Listen Here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/giving-a-voice-to-siblings-of-children-with-special-needs/6618918
I heard you’re the sibling to a child with special needs, and I wanted to write you a letter explaining why you have a one-up on life. I know your life might seem hard or different from your friends, but trust me, you most definitely will be more prepared for this life than anyone else. Let me explain…
I heard you deal with more than any child should. Your parents spend a lot of time away from you. You know they’re taking care of your sibling, possibly bringing him or her to the doctor. Maybe your sibling is admitted in the hospital often; your parents might be on the phone taking care of insurance business or even physically caring for your sibling. I know, my friend. You see this more often than not. You see the love your parents have for your special sibling, and it’s being embedded into your heart. You see the patience they exhibit when caring for him or her, and it’s being buried into your soul. You see that your parents never stop trying to get what your sibling needs, and it’s being ingrained into your mind. You see your parents exhaust themselves so your sibling and you are well taken care of, and you’re learning from this. You may not know it, but all of these little things are teaching you traits of how to be an amazing person.
I’m certain that being the sibling to a child with different needs is a struggle. I know you have those moments where your heart stings with jealousy, where you’re worried sick over your sibling. I know you have those moments when you get mad because you can’t go to all the birthday parties you want to. All of those times are totally understandable. You have a right to be upset every now and then, but I can bet that you can think of some pretty cool things you have in your household that your friends don’t. How about all the cool equipment your sibling has, huh? I know you’ve climbed into that wheelchair or played with his super cool assistive technology toys. How about getting to see your sibling reach a milestone and that proud feeling that overcomes your body? You get to experience a friendship like no other. Your sibling completely and utterly trusts and loves you with a love that can penetrate the coldest heart. They look at you with those beautiful eyes and know you’re there for them no matter what. The bond you have is indescribable. You’re their sibling, their friend and their protector. Your sibling might not speak verbally, but we both know your hearts together carry on conversations us adults could never possibly understand. And I tell you what, we’re so extremely jealous.
Did you know your parents watch you and your sibling’s interactions on a daily basis and their heart literally wants to burst out of their body with pride and love? They see everything you do for your brother or sister. They notice when you walk by and give them a quick kiss, stroke their hair or give them a hello. Your mom and dad love to witness you sticking up for your special sibling or when you go out of your way to make sure he or she is included in everything. They quietly observe you as you help with therapies, put oxygen masks back in place and hold hands during tests or doctor visits. Your parents recognize every time you perch yourself on the counter to help prep medicines or bring them a diaper, a syringe or whatever else they need. You do such a crazy amazing job helping your parents. It surely takes a wonderful little boy or girl to do what you do on a daily basis. I’m sure they tell you thank you, but sometimes if they don’t just know they are beyond thankful for you.
But most important of all, my dear one, the reason you are going to rock this life: You know true love, you know true heartache and you know what’s truly important. You have lived a life that takes a strong heart and a strong mind. You will mature much faster than your schoolmates (don’t be too hard on them), you’ll exhibit compassion that astounds others, you’ll know more about healthcare than 95 percent of adults you pass on the street, and you will most definitely have a wicked sense of humor that will enable you to keep life joyful no matter what. When you were introduced to your sibling with complex needs for the first time, that moment in time is pinned in the stars, for it was then that your destiny was determined. You will be an awesome human being and you’re going to change lives for the better… all because you were the sibling of a child with special needs. Rock on, my brave friend.
All my love,
The momma of a child like you and your special sibling.
This post first appeared on Mommies of Miracles.
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Read more: http://themighty.com/2014/12/dear-sibling-to-a-child-with-special-needs-let-me-tell-you-why-youre-amazing/#ixzz3i9cc5WJz
Rebecca is an independent publisher working to help siblings of children with emotional challenges.