These Kids With Disabilities and Their Siblings Prove There's No Love Like Sibling Love


A sibling bond is extraordinary — especially when one sibling faces challenges the other doesn’t. It’s a love that’s somehow difficult and effortless at the same time. It’s a love that, even in dark times, shines. “Extraordinary” may actually be an understatement, so we turned to you. We asked our readers on Facebook to describe a special moment they’ve witnessed between their child with special needs and his or her sibling(s). The result was just as we expected — better than extraordinary.

Here’s what you had to say.

“My 2-year-old helps hold my son’s tube when I have to drain it. He’s so protective of his brother. It’s really sweet.” — Baby-Asher Eli Facebook page

Baby-Asher Eli

“I think this picture says it all.” — Christen Toothman

Christen Toothman brother and sister

“I saw my eldest with her head on her sister’s stomach singing the healing song from the movie, Tangled. She was trying to use her hair like Rapunzel to heal her little sister.” — Carole Moss

two babies holding hands, one with feeding tube

“This. My son was nonverbal when my second son was an infant. Something changed in him the moment he became a big brother. He didn’t need words to be there, comfort him or love him. He stopped his self-injurious behaviors — I think he didn’t want to scare his brother. They fight like brothers do now, but I will never forget how sweet and gentle he was with him then.” — Jodie Tompkins

Jodie Tompkins, big baby brother feeding younger brother

“My little guy has a language impairment, hyperlexia and ADHD, and his big brother is his best friend and always looks out for him.” — Carina Marchello

Carina Marchello older and younger brother hand in hand in park

“When he was 4 years old, I went to tell him I was pregnant, and he exclaimed, ‘I know, and her name is Cailee.’ His connection to her began before my own, I must admit. He’s been her guardian and most treasured love ever since. Cailee was born six weeks early and with a rare genetic eye disease called FEVR, threatening to cause her to go blind at any moment. Jaxon is most diligently a devoted brother! I love to watch them together.” — Cat Mcd

Cat Mcd Older brother holding younger blind sister's hand

“My older daughter has special needs. When the younger one was an infant, the older was 2. I had my younger daughter on my lap. The older one, who has difficulty recognizing her surroundings, walked over, looked at her sister, bent down and gave her the gentlest kiss imaginable. Then she looked at me and went back to what she was doing. Best moment ever.” — Denis Myers

Denis Myers two sister playing

“When I became pregnant again after my son with special needs was only 15 months old, I felt so selfish. How could I be there to help him with a baby to care for? I wish I would have known his younger sister would become his greatest teacher and his biggest fan.” — Janine Pawliw Mertz

Janine Pawliw Mertz two brothers looking out the window

“Each day, with Ceci (who was unable to walk) on my hip, I would go to pick Laila up from school, and together, the three of us would make a regular trek from the school building to our car. On the weekends, Laila would work so hard to try to help Ceci learn to walk, and one day, this happened. Together, they held hands and made their way from the school, into the sunshine and towards the car. And with no one on my hip, I had a free hand to snap the picture. Laila was elated.” — Ali Schmeder-Cummins

Ali Schmeder-Cummins older sister and younger sister walking

“This is my older son with autism reading to his little brother, who has global developmental delay. Love him to pieces.” — Leslie Ann

Leslie Ann two brothers, one reading to the other

“When we told our 9-year-old daughter that her brother had Down syndrome, she simply said ‘OK’ and gave him a kiss. She loves him, and his eyes light up when he hears her voice!” — Ruth Radack Tsikouris

Ruth Radack Tsikouris older sister holding baby sibling

“My kids were out enjoying the sweet dizziness of a rolling and windswept wheat field. When I called to them, they turned and gave me this indelible vision… the glow of an awesome sibling love.” — Connor Long Facebook page

Connor Long brother and sister in wheat field

“I’m the identical twin of a profoundly disabled young woman. Due to hydrocephalus and to date, my twin has had more than 223 brain surgeries! She wasn’t supposed to live past age 7, and we are 37. This is just one moment we’ve shared. She’s my rock and my best friend. And I can honestly tell you I’ve always taken care of her like she takes care of me!” — Jenifer Alex

Jenifer Alex two sisters together outside, one in wheelchair

“I have two boys, both with special needs. One day while in the kitchen cooking, I saw my 5-year-old, who has autism, sitting on the floor with my 2-year-old, who has Down syndrome, helping him put coins in a piggy bank. I watched his kindness as he guided the small, unsure hand and kept repeating and signing ‘in’ and ‘more.’ When I asked what they were doing, he said, ‘I’m his therapist. I’m helping him with his therapy.’ Needless to say, my mama heart melted.” — Toni Turbeville Morton

Photo credit Angela Reynolds Photography, big brother in superman cape holding little brother in cape
Photo credit Angela Reynolds Photography

“My oldest has autism and is nonverbal, but he always signs that he wants a bedtime kiss from his younger as he goes up to bed.” — Alisha Thomas

Alisha Thomas big and little brother dressed alike

“I have two sons: Adam, who is 5 and has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental delays along with a bunch of other health issues, and my younger son, Vinny, who is 2 and a half. The first time I really noticed the special bond they share was when Vinny was still just a baby. He and Adam were playing with a toy together and Vinny simply put his arm around Adam and snuggled into his big brother a little closer. It still makes me cry when I look at the picture.” — Anne Wilson

Anne Wilson siblings embracing

“My youngest was born ten weeks into my eldest son’s bone marrow transplant. As Jacob was in isolation, they weren’t able to meet until Jacob was discharged (Milo was 2 weeks old by this point). Now they’re best friends, and as Jacob is still in isolation at home, they keep each other company.” — Jen Carter

Jen Carter two brothers playing

“When they met for the first time at the hospital, my baby girl was 6 weeks old. Finally the day came when he was allowed to see her for the first time. I was prepared for a short visit, but he didn’t want to leave. My 3-year-old stayed by his baby sister’s hospital bed for an hour and a half. When it was time to leave, he cried. He wanted to stay with her. They have a connection and love that never fails to surprise me.” — Rebecca Marcario

brother looking at baby sibling in NICU

“This is my 3-year-old and his 1-year-old sister, holding hands during his tube feeding. They’re inseparable. I couldn’t ask for a more caring, loving sister for him!” — Kristin Novotny

Kristin Novotny sister and brother holding hands

“They walked down the aisle together! #classof2014“– Dayna Walls-Cochran

Dayna Walls-Cochran two sisters graduating

“My son Andy, on the left, has autism, and my son Alex, on the right, does not. My 8-year-old twins argue often — they get on each other’s nerves and have physical altercations that sometimes draw blood. So when I caught this moment, Alex grabbing Andy’s hand and them walking together holding hands, I teared up and found it hard not to become emotional. Alex has also been known to stand up for his brother when he’s being bullied.” — Jennifer Joy Brooking

Jennifer Joy Brooking brothers hand in hand walking through park

“My 15-year-old daughter has Asperger syndrome and doesn’t like being around people much at all. However, she does love spending time with her little sister, who is 9. She can make her happier than anyone else can.” — Janice Stauber Johnson

Janice Stauber Johnson two sisters on the beach, one carrying the other

“Lily, my eldest daughter is almost 4, and she’s more like a second mom than a sister to Celine (17 months) who has CMD. I love how she sits next to her everyday after preschool and gives her all the details of her day at preschool, as if they were the same age. I was cooking dinner in the kitchen one day when I heard Lily saying, ‘Wow! Good job, Celine! Mommy, come see!’ Celine was drinking water out of her bottle all by herself for the first time, and Lily made sure I didn’t miss it.” — Tala Rifai

Tala Rifai two sisters, one in stroller

“Our youngest son, Alfie, is ventilated via tracheotomy 24/7, amongst other things, and spent his first year or so in hospital. We have another son who was almost 2 when Alfie was born. When Alfie was a few months old, our eldest came for his daily visit, jumped onto a chair next to the bed, held his hand and said, ‘Don’t worry Alfie, I will protect you.'” — Natalie Lowndes

Natalie Lowndes sister looking over baby sibling with oxygen tubes and IVs

“Stella is 3, but wise beyond that, and she’s grown up learning how to care for and help her big brother, Greysen. Through weekly blood draws, various therapy appointments, staff in our home and lots medications, she’s learned patience and love. Here, she’s practicing a blood draw with Greysen, so he won’t be scared. ‘Think of joy all around you Greysen, be still, you can do it. I’ll hold your hand.'” — Becky Tegeler

Becky Tegeler two brothers sitting next to each other

“I overheard our 8-year-old little girl defending our 3-year-old little boy with cerebral palsy, saying to a group of children, “He doesn’t walk like that because he’s young; he walks like that because he has a disability, he has cerebral palsy.” I was very proud of her. She is his greatest advocate.” — Jodie Verwey

Jodie Verwey sister and brother making silly faces

“My 5-year-old never leaves his sister’s side. Always cuddling her and playing with her. Because Alyssa can’t move her arms, he plays video games, and she gives him direction as to what she wants him to do with the character. Even though it’s games like Barbie, he doesn’t mind playing them for her.” — Julieanne Bugeja

brother standing next to sister in wheelchair

“Our son has four sisters who go to every one of his Special Olympics events, and the oldest ones take him on dates for dinner and movies. Just this year, his youngest sister stood up to some kids who were bullying him and made sure to let those kids know she wouldn’t tolerate any of that nonsense.” — Dawn Rewerts Jenks

Dawn Rewerts Jenks image of 5 siblings together, professional photo

“This photo was after a day my daughter (she has autism) had been bullied to many tears, something that went on often in the past. Her younger sister was comforting her the moment she came home from school. This tiny little girl is not afraid to go up to adults and teach them about her big sister.” — Rose Harrison

Rose Harrison sister kneeling, while other sister embraces her

“What I see now, is this little girl who loves her sister unconditionally.” — Krista Rowland

sisters hand in hand laying down

*Some answers have been shortened and edited.


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