Having a sibling with Down syndrome impacts the whole family. Brothers and sisters will likely be in the lives of their sibling with Down syndrome longer than anyone else. They can be great sources of strength and support, but they also have needs of support themselves. Throughout their lives they will have unique concerns, but also unique opportunities as well.
The Sibling Support Project, believing that disabilities, illness, and mental health issues affect the lives of all family members, seeks to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs—and to increase parents’ and providers’ understanding of sibling issues. Their mission is accomplished by training local service providers on how to create Sibshops (lively community-based for school-age brothers and sisters); hosting workshops, listservs, and websites for young and adult siblings; and increasing parents’ and providers’ awareness of siblings’ unique, life-long, and ever-changing concerns through workshops, websites, and written materials. Click here to find a Sibshop in your area.
For adult siblings, the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) has developed an Adult Sibling Toolkit. Designed to jumpstart conversations with parents about becoming more involved in their brother or sister’s life, the toolkit includes sections on social, health, home, employment, legal/financial and government benefits. Siblings can use this information to be an effective advocate and perhaps, caregiver, after their parents are no longer able.