Building Community

Sibshops have become an important part of the program offerings in my business. Parents are reported play dates and other social opportunities outside of the Sibshops. It is important for children that have brothers and sisters with disabilities to find their support network young. Isolation does nothing good for the brain and development. This is discussed in previous blogs regarding Expanding the ACE studies and Mental health.

During one of our Sibshops, all the children blew up 2 balloons and write a positive and not so positive feeling on the balloon. They were then asked to juggle them and keep both off the ground. This activity was based off of one suggested for grief and the overlap between the two is there. At the end of the activity, they were asked how hard it was to juggle two balloons without running into each other. The conversation quickly turned into they were afraid their sib would pass away. For 2 of them, this is reality. We then wonder why they can’t focus when they are at school.

In my last post, I wrote about NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has recognized that being a Sib has mental health challenges. We are often left to our own devices way too young. (Please note this is not blaming parents). Parents do what they have to do to survive.

There was one conversation that has stuck with me for a while. We were playing Uno and certain colors were different things about ourself and our sib. For example, green was tell us something you are really good at or you like about yourself. Red was one not so great thing about having a sibling with a disability. One child reported she was embarrassed because the sibling was not potty trained until they were 9. I responded with I understand. My sib was 16. Every child attending had a story regarding potty training from losing control of bowel and bladder during seizures or continues to require diapers. I saw a child go from mini adult back to child in 90 seconds.

I have had several parents report they suspect their sib has anxiety or ADHD. I personally think that all sibs need to see a licensed mental health provider. Maybe they do have a label and by all means get them services. The ones I worry about the most are the sibs that have siblings with severe behaviors like aggression, self injurious behaviors, or elopement

Several weeks ago, I presented at the annual CARD conference. I decided to attend the entire conference since I got admission for presenting. I had never been and really enjoyed it. I met a parent who presented on the challenges of deciding to place her autistic son in a group home due to severe behaviors. He had to be baker acted to get APD attention for crisis (different post all together). She also has a younger daughter. She said something like now I need to figure her out. I said let me guess, she is being an asshole? She looked at like yes. How did you know.?Trust me, I know. My teen years are for a different post. I said let me guess, she is looking for schools or somewhere to move far away. There are behavior patterns for siblings too. I am starting to see them very clearly.

If you want more information on the Sibshops I provide, please visit my website.

Please email me with any questions.

Leave a Reply