|Posted by Lauren Sparks on February 28, 2015 at 8:00 PM
While I believe it is important to keep one eye peeled on typical siblings for signs of distress, I have found it even more significant to focus on the things Allie has GAINED as a result of having Shelby in her life. And lest you think this is just an excuse to brag about my child, it is. But I also have some observations about siblings of special needs kids that are relatively universal. When you grow up with a medically fragile family member, you have patience forced upon you. You become strong, mature, resilient, and tolerant. And one of the best qualities I’ve seen? Compassion. As they learn to help care for their siblings, they learn to care for others. The first week that Allie was in kindergarten, a sweet boy named William with Angelman’s syndrome came into her class. One of the other students asked their teacher what was wrong with William. Allie – not even knowing what William’s condition was – raised her hand and educated the whole class. She proclaimed that there was NOTHING WRONG with William. He had special needs, just like her sister. And that just meant he was a little different. After that she was often buddied with William on the playground and has continued to volunteer to partner with him throughout their elementary school education.
Most recently, my 10 year old Allie went with us to the state capital to lobby for the right to treat Shelby with medical cannabis. We talked to Representatives, Senators and staff members. Allie would jump right in to every discussion, and before the day was over, she wanted to be allowed to give our entire spiel. Senator Pat Fallon asked her if she was 15 years old, and Representative Susan King asked her if she was a professional lobbyist being paid for this gig! Everyone remarked on how well spoken she was and what a good sister as well. I was sooooo proud of her.
So though I understand the fears that our typical kids will feel left out or slighted in some way, I want to commend all the mommas who are juggling special needs and typical kiddos. Some days it feels like the hardest job in the world. But some days I wonder why I got to be the lucky one who gets to parent Shelby and Allie – two of the most amazing kids I know.