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Brothers and Sisters
Welcome, brothers and sisters!
As Massachusetts’ largest advocacy group for people with Down syndrome, it goes without saying that we understand the challenges inherent in living with Down syndrome. We also understand that having a sibling with a disability has consequential impacts on the whole family, including brother and sisters.
In recognition of both the challenges posed for siblings and the valuable life lessons conferred upon them, the MDSC has a number of resources available:
According to the national Sibling Support Project there are over six million people nationwide with special health, developmental, and mental health concerns. The vast majority of them have typically-developing siblings. At the MDSC we recognize both the ordinariness of this kind of sibling relationship as well as the uniqueness of it.
We know that in many respects, people with Down syndrome and their brothers and sisters relate like any siblings- experiencing both positive and negative emotions toward their closest family members. However, given the unique nature of the relationship between people with Down syndrome and their siblings, we have found that brothers and sisters who get support through other siblings find it invaluable.
As the Sibling Support Project points out:
Sibshops in Massachusetts – Sibshops offers events for siblings to meet other siblings, have fun, laugh, talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sib with special needs, play games, and learn something about the services their brothers and sisters receive.
The Massachusetts Sibling Support Network (MSSN) is committed to supporting siblings of people with disabilities by creating welcoming communities for siblings across the lifespan; improving the range and availability of sibling support services; and providing education about sibling-related issues.
MSSN's national partner, the Sibling Leadership Network, provides siblings of individuals with disabilities information, support and tools to advocate with their brothers and sisters. Their main page has information on upcoming webinars and events for siblings, and they also have a Sibling Advocacy Toolkit for those interested in participating in the advocacy process.
For adults siblings, our partners at the National Down Syndrome Congress have developed an Adult Sibling Toolkit. Designed to jumpstart conversations with parents about becoming more involved in your brother or sister's life, the toolkit includes sections on social, health, home, employment, legal/financial and goverment benefits as well as resources for further assistance.
At the MDSC, we take special care to ensure that siblings are not overlooked. If you are a sibling of someone with Down syndrome, refer to the resources on this page and remember that you are not alone!