In 1978 I attended a sibling group for young adolescents who had a brother or sister with special needs. I have a sister with Down’s Syndrome and this group provided a way for me to connect with other peers who also had a sibling with special needs. I attended this group for several years and I always thought it was a great opportunity where I not only I learned about and met other peers who had a sibling had special needs, but I learned about myself and what I was thinking and feeling. As with many things in life, you never could expect that these lessons and experiences would bring you to where you are now. I never would have imagined that attending this group over 30 years ago would have such a profound influence on my work today and reflecting on this group brought back some lessons learned that I could not of appreciated as a 16-year-old.
Last spring I met with the Shriver center staff and we were talking about LABBB and Shriver working together to do some research in our programs. As we were talking they mentioned to me that they were starting a sibling network and asked if I knew anyone that would be interested. I mentioned to them that I actually attended a sibling group at Shriver back in 1978. It was an interesting moment because we were meeting just a few rooms down from where my sibling group met back in the late 70’s. They were not aware that this group had existed back. Actually, Dr.Margaret Bauman was one of the staff who initiative this group at the Shriver Center. To prove it I had to dig up some old pictures. I also spoke with Donna Leigh, LABBB Financial Coordinator, who was also involved in the Shriver center sibling group back in the late 70’s. Between Donna and my mother we came up with some great pictures and I was able to share this with the Shriver center staff.
A few weeks later I met with Patrick Gleason and Emily Rubin from UMASS medical Center / Shriver Center. Emily Rubin was getting this group off the ground, and she asked if I would do a short interview for their Spotlight magazine on my experience of attending the sibling group. It was great to spend time with Patrick and Emily talking about the group, my thoughts, experiences, and also to give input into what would make their initiative with the sibling network a success. I hope this group will have a significant impact on other children and teens who have a brother or sister with special needs.
If you would like to read the on-line magazine you can click on the link below. My interview is on page 3.