In celebration of National Siblings Day (April 10th) and in support of the siblings of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Council is pleased to announce the launch of SibsCorner!
For many of us, the sibling relationship represents the longest lasting relationship we will have in our lifetime. From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our protectors, scolds, playmates, tormentors, and co-conspirators. They are our role models and teach and counsel us through the decisions we make in our lives. This sibling bond is no less enduring nor less powerful when one sibling has a disability. The relationship continues to be characterized by emotional intensity, a never ending rollercoaster of positive and negative emotional upheavals. However, siblings of people with disabilities may need additional understanding, attention, supports, and recognition of their unique contributions to the family system.
In an effort to support siblings of children and adults with disabilities, the National Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) was established in 2007 by a small network of passionate adult siblings and professions interested in sibling issues. Since then, the network has grown to over 4,000 members and 20 state chapters across the U.S. The mission of the SLN is to “provide siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support, and tools to advocate with their brothers and sisters and promote the issues important to them and their entire families.” http://siblingleadership.org/ In January of 2015, the Colorado chapter of the Sibling Leadership Network found a home within the Sibling Tree organization. Sibling Tree was established by Sandra Tucker who upon arriving in Colorado felt a deep longing to connect with other siblings with strong familial ties and an understanding of the unique experiences shared among siblings of people with disabilities. “I started the groups because I knew that if I was feeling that, there had to be other siblings who were also dealing with different emotions.” The first sibling group started in 2010 and has since grown to include sibling support groups for both young children and adults. Sibling Tree currently leads sibling support groups for children ages 6 to 13, 16 to 21, and adults. They also organize Kids Night Out for the YMCA and Sibling Happy Hours. Now as the Colorado chapter of the SLN, Sibling Tree will further expand their activities to include a Sib2Sib peer matching program, sibling advocacy trainings and events, futures planning supports, educational trainings on the sibling experience, and other special events. For more information one can visit the Sibling Tree website at http://www.siblingtree.org/
The “Sibling Movement” is gaining momentum as a large number of siblings become strong advocates, professionals in the field of disability, and direct care providers. Particularly with the aging caregiver issue facing the nation, policies and practices must shift to broaden their term of “family” and begin to include siblings early in the conversation when developing services and supports for people with disabilities. As a means of supporting self-advocates and families, the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council is helping to increase awareness about the sibling perspective and sibling supports by introducing the Sibling Blog.
The Sibling Blog will become a place where people can read posts written by siblings about sibling issues, programs, and events helping to enhance the understanding of the sibling experience and perspective. Future blogs will focus on sibling support groups, the importance of futures planning, and advocating for and alongside our brothers and sisters. Through the support of siblings the entire family unit will gain strength and resilience leading to the enhanced quality of life for all family members.