I’M A BIG FAN OF SIBLINGS IN SPECIAL NEEDS FAMILIES!
Siblings in special needs families are my heroes, including Rachel (above) with her brother, Regan.
These sibs take on priceless roles in challenging family life situations with little or no voice about those tough roles. Yet, if we pay attention to meeting their needs, too, these amazing young people often grow up to become responsible, caring young adults with a maturity far greater than many of their peers. Many choose to go into helping professions like teaching and various therapy careers, the direct result of their day-to-day real-life experiences. These choices clearly benefit society.
Still, these kids often exchange childhood innocence to lay claim to those valuable lessons in adult maturity. Theirs is no easy role to take on, and I marvel that so many, like Rachel, do it with such grace, dignity, fierce sibling loyalty, and unconditional love.
As adults, we have much to learn from these special siblings.
Recently, I received a wonderful e-mail from Rachel, a college student who took the time to write and tell me how much she enjoyed my book. Rachel also shared her inspiring words of support and love for her brother, Regan, now a high school senior.
I hope that Rachel’s words of wisdom inspire you as much as they do me.
-Please remember that it’s important to take good care of all the kids in your family…that’s why I devoted an entire chapter to sibling voices in my book.
My name is Rachel, and I am a junior Communications major at Southern Utah University. I recently read your fantastic book, and I am giving a report on it in my parenting class this Friday. I want to thank you for your book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I, like your daughter, was born the first grandchild and I was healthy and happy. When I was 2 1/2 years old, my brother was born with cerebral palsy. My parents and the doctors knew something was wrong but they weren’t able to diagnose him for a few years.
Regan cannot walk or talk, but he has a machine called a Pathfinder that talks for him. He also has developed his own form of sign language, which we call “Reglish” that we use to communicate. Today Regan is 17 years old and a senior in high school. He is very interested in the news and film production, and he loves to travel. One of his favorite places to be is riding in the car in traffic on a busy highway! Regan is the most amazing person I know and I am so grateful to be his big sister.
I wouldn’t trade my brother for the whole world. I know he was sent to our family to help us learn patience, love, hope, and so many other things. Regan has a message he likes to share with everyone he meets. His message is “Don’t be sad if you ever have a child or grandchild with special needs. It is just a different journey so hop on and enjoy the ride!”
When I read the chapter about siblings of special needs children, I found that I can totally relate, and it was fun for me to be able to hear other’s stories. It sounds like your son was a pretty amazing kid, and I thank you for sharing a little of him with me. I have a special place in my heart for children like Regan and Eric. I know they are God’s special angels and they were sent to this Earth for a purpose. I am sorry for your loss, and I want you to know that I admire your strength and courage.
Thank you again for your amazing book and for your example.
-and thank you, Rachel, for sharing your insightful, loving words with me , and with the world! You inspire me.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations