Big Up to the Special Siblings


It’s the end of the school year. The time for awards and certificates to be given out to children who have tried the hardest, ran the fastest, or whatever criteria is being assessed. But there is one group of kids out there that is more deserving of an award than any others, IMHO: the siblings of the Special Ones. The boys and girls who, through no one’s fault are born into this life changing role.

This week, our middle child has finished Year 6 and is leaving primary school. She has had her SATs results, been in an excellent school production and had her Leavers’ Prom. This week really has been
all about her. And I’m glad. I am so glad.

When you have a child with a disability, family life literally does revolve around them. Especially when you have a child with autism and challenging behaviour. What we do, where we can go and when, depends
on our son. There are lots of things we cannot do as a family, things that she misses out on that others take for granted – her life really is one big compromise. But it is no one’s fault. She could blame her brother, but she never does. I am sure she
has thought it, but I have never heard her complain about it at all. Because she is special, she is amazing. She is strong and resilient, confident and mature beyond her eleven years. She is my girl, my clever, beautiful girl, that strives for fairness
and equality, mostly, I feel, because of her brother.

There are boys and girls, men and women around the world that are Special Siblings, helping hands to their parents that are struggling to cope with the impact of having a disabled child. Linchpins to family
life, assisting practically and being there for their parents and siblings day after day, as well as getting on with their own lives and dealing with their own problems.

I know what I was like as a child, the only girl in a family with three children. Always the dramatic one, probably pretty selfish if I’m being honest. I think of what I was like when I was eleven and
what my daughter is like at the same age. She is so level headed and calm, skills gained from coping with stressful situations, on a daily basis.

When I was at university there was a lovely girl on my course. The type of girl who was always smiling and happy. We were friends for three years and I’d never heard her talk about having any brothers
and sisters. I asked her one day if she was an only child and she said no, she had a sister who still lived at home, because she had learning difficulties. I remember feeling quite sad for her at the time, but looking back now, she was the epitome of a Special
Sibling.

Now I’m not saying all SSs are angelic, super humans – I’m sure they must have those ‘why me?’ days that us Special Parents have. When my girls are older, I’m sure they will tell me some truths that will
almost break me. Perhaps they will keep these feelings to themselves, I do hope that our relationships will be strong enough for us to talk honestly about it. Who knows?

So, here’s to all those Special Siblings, you deserve ALL the medals, high fives and shiny trophies in the world. But, especially to my precious, big girl on your last week of primary school. I am so
very proud of you and love you more than you will ever know xxxx

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