Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Siblings of special needs kids

I remember on Molly's first day of 4th grade, her wonderfully creative teacher gave each of the children an old fashioned key. As a first day ice-breaker assignment they were to write about what that key would unlock. Understandably, there were a wide variety of ideas and the kids all got a chance to stand up and read theirs if they wanted.

Molly's key, she told the class, was to open up her brother's power of speech. She told a little about how talking was very hard for him and that we were all working very hard to help him.

Well, I can't even write this story without tearing up again. And, it's been over a year!

First, I think it is testament to the kind of kid Molly is; compassionate, empathetic and thoughtful. But I also think it is very illustrative to how siblings of specials kids commonly feel. They, somehow, want to make it better for so many reasons; to help their parents, to help their sibling and to make it easier on themselves. Let's me honest, a lot lands in the laps of these kids.

I recently heard about a program called Sibshops.

"Sibshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with special needs is for some a good thing, others a not-so-good thing, and for many, somewhere in-between. They reflect a belief that brothers and sisters have much to offer one another — if they are given a chance. Sibshops are a spirited mix of new games (designed to be unique, off-beat, and appealing to a wide ability range), new friends, and discussion activities. The Sibshop curriculum is used throughout the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Guatemala, Mexico, and Argentina."

For a long time I have been feeling that Molly could use something like this. I don't want to make a big deal about it but I think it would be a fun environment to share some feelings and thoughts about having a brother with special needs. And, now that I am writing this, I think I am going to look for some activities nearby.

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