What Dancing Has to Do With Having a Sibling With Special Needs
Many people have asked me and still ask me, “How was it growing up with a sister with special needs?” They ask questions like: “Do you feel like your parents didn’t spend a lot of time with you while you were growing up?” “Did you feel like you always had to be perfect for your parents because of all the hard things that they were going through?”
The answer is: yes and no. Let me explain.
When I was 2 years old, my sister was born. When she turned 2, her symptoms of special needs started to show. Our lives changed completely after that. You can never plan for these things to happen and when they do, you don’t know what to expect. My sister has developmental delay and slight autism. The best way I can describe her is as a 2-year-old in a 17-year-old’s body. Physically, she has no problem walking or running, but she doesn’t talk and she has no sense of danger, so she always needs one-on-one care. While I was growing up, I think that yes, most of my parents’ time was spent on my sister and her care, but I never felt that it took away from my time with them.
I would like to give advice to my fellow sibs out there and explain how having a sibling with special needs changes your life.
It’s not going to be a smooth ride; there are going to be many difficult times. You are going to go through things that most children or teens your age will never have to go through, but not for one second should you let negative thoughts take over. All these things that you will go through only make you a better, stronger and mature person.
Many questions will run through your head while you are going through all these hard times, questions like: Why can’t I act like a normal teen? Why can’t I have loads of friends come by to play? Why can’t I have a conversation with my sister or brother? I want to tell you that it’s okay to question and it’s okay to feel upset, but the worst thing to do is to keep it all inside.
My biggest mistake when I was going through hard times was that I never shared my feelings with anyone. Everyone has ups and downs, and yes, not everyone is going through the same things, but if you look for answers and you don’t ask the questions first, they will stay unanswered. It doesn’t matter who you speak to — parents, friends, even if it’s one person with whom you feel the closest — it’s always best to share instead of carrying on with everything still inside.
When I feel down or I’m going through a hard time, the place that I go is my sister’s special school. You know why? Because all the girls and boys bring love and happiness to everyone around them.
Many ask if I ever wish that my sister was “normal” and if we could live a “normal” life. My answer is no. Looking back, I realized that it’s the best thing that has happened to me and it is the reason I am who I am today.
So keep your head up high and be proud that you have been blessed with such a special sibling, even with all the hard times along the way. I remember every day that despite the fact that that my sister will never live an independent life, she will also never crash the family car or fight with her siblings. She will never flunk out of school. She will never get married or divorced. She will never understand the evils of this world or understand death. She is pure happiness and I will always be grateful for having her in my life.
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.” We have not been given easy lives, but they are lives worth living. Cherish the challenges and later you will realize that it’s the challenges that have made you the person you are today.
Keep you head up and don’t forget to dance in the rain.
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