Leadership was not something I was seeking out until a business colleague and friend told me I had to apply to Leadership Manatee. Susan Terzakis had always steered me in the right direction. I decided (after a push from a mentor) to take the leadership training with the state occupational therapy board. In the training yesterday, the word passion kept coming up. The definition of passion is an uncontrollable emotion. I don’t agree with Larry Winget much but I will agree that I do not want anymore uncontrollable emotions. As special needs siblings, we have had many uncontrollable emotions and I am over that. He always said you have to know your morals and values so you can defend your point of view. My point of view- I have very little patience towards people who choose to stay ignorant toward people with disabilities. I was done with number 45 after mocking a reporter with CP.
Leadership is difficult for siblings but it shouldn’t be. As people were talking yesterday, I came up with a list of traits that makes us amazing leaders.
- We learn at an early age it is not about me
- Service above self
- We understand injustice at a very young age
- Learn to advocate
- Big majority have been through trauma so we get things people just don’t understand
- As voices were silenced, we became very good at listening actively
Things I have learned the past few years
Use Your Voice
For some reason, siblings do not talk. I think it goes back to the voice be silenced. I know one individual for about a year and a half before he goes “oh yeah, I have a brother with Down Syndrome”. I am giving you permission right now, TALK!
Use your platforms
Everyone is on social media so use it. I don’t care if you are a CEO or a barista. Leaders don’t have to be in high powered jobs. Get involved in other ways. Being on nonprofit boards that serve the community is a great place to start.
Network with other Sibs
There is an organization dedicated to us! I just found out about this a little over a year ago. Also, join Sibnet on FaceBook.
I think we are more prone to this because some of our identity is tied to the sibling. I remember when I first got out of occupational therapy school. I was covering for an occupational therapist who went on vacation. I was wrangling a group of small children for therapy and I hear “little Albright?” Not my first name. I have also been called Jimmy’s little sister. Some of us have just been taught we do not have our own identity.
Work on yourself
No one likes this part. Myself included. This looks different for everyone. I chose meditation and yoga. I also read a lot and seek professional help. We are adults now. It is your choice to stay in victim mode. There are things we may have to unlearn or learn to do differently. Put your oxygen mask on first.
This is also a difficult one especially for siblings. Sometimes the boundaries have to be drawn toward other family members. I know some siblings have reported feelings of guilt due to this. If you are going to drain my energy, then I am not going to engage. This includes my own mother.
Some of us go into flight/fight easily. This can be due to past trauma. I would be curious to know with in the ACE study, how many had a family member with special needs. This can be turned into a good thing when channeled correctly and not with passion.
If you are a parent reading this, please share the sibling resources. I was in my 20s before meeting another sibling. Please don’t do that. Siblings will be taking over for you if guardianship is involved. Teach the children to be advocates in a healthy way. The tips written here for siblings apply to parents as well. Model these please.
Practicing what I preach and speaking up. Please tune into Facebook page Parenting Special Needs Magazine at 8pm EST August 4th for my interview regarding guardianship.