To the Siblings of Kids With Down Syndrome


I was 6 years old when my mom brought home my little brother, Samuel. As I write this, I am sitting with him in our basement watching HGTV. He is now approaching 16 years old. I can assure you, he fits the characteristics of a “normal teenager.”

Everybody loves him, he participates in sports (special Olympics) and after-school events just like everybody else. I have come a long way since being the school aged girl with a little brother with Down syndrome. I would say I didn’t quite understand it at first. My parents would tell me he was special, he was different, my little brother. To me, he was just Sam. I didn’t see the Down syndrome. At times I would see it, for example when I had friends over and some of them didn’t understand it. It would show when they didn’t know how to react or interact with him. Some of them did, those are the friends I still have to this day.

It broke my heart that some people didn’t grow up with people with disabilities in their lives somehow, because let me tell you, they were missing out. I am so incredibly grateful to have my brother in my life.

It is not always hugs and smiles, of course. My brother can be very opinionated, he has his own ideas and he doesn’t like being told “no.” I’ve found ways to work around his stubbornness. On the other side of things, I always have someone who greets me with a hug after a long day. I always have someone who is there for me. My brother looks up to me and I look up to him in ways I can’t explain. It’s the way he sees life that amazes me.

Dear sibling who is fortunate enough to have someone with a disability in your life, you have been gifted the secret to life. You may grow up sooner than your friends, but I think that’s a good thing. You will not be tempted to judge others, and if you do, you will think twice, and you may not. If ever your friends begin to judge or talk about other people’s differences, I hope you choose to educate them. I hope you choose to start a cycle of acceptance, of inclusion, of peace in the world.

When you make life about others, while not forgetting yourself, you can get so much more life in return. You will learn values and you will have qualities that will point you in the right direction if you are lost, all because of your life experiences with your sibling.

Sam, thank you for being the best part of my being. You have taught me how to love, how to love all people unconditionally. I will always pay it forward, be by your side in all your milestones, your big accomplishments and forever be your strongest advocate.

Getty image by magda_istock


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Down Syndrome

Screenshot of Brack Duncan and Josh Banks at Banks initiation. They are both wearing suits and Banks is giving a thumbs up.

FarmHouse Fraternity Initiates Josh Bank, First Member With Down Syndrome

On Sept. 24, University of Kentucky’s FarmHouse fraternity initiated Josh Banks, its first member with Down syndrome. In a statement on Facebook, Ben Bohannon, chapter president wrote, “Josh is already one of our Brothers, but now we get to make it official.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = [...]
Sisters posing for camera, smiling, they look alike.

What Having a Sister With Down Syndrome Is Like for Me

On March 17, 2005, my life changed, though I did not realize it until years later. On that day, my wish at every fountain in the mall, every shooting star, came true — I had a younger sister. Erin was the best sister I could have wished for, even though I may not have known [...]
Banner image of Tracy Sharp and "Princess" Pooser

Women With Down Syndrome Made Honorary Flight Attendants

Tracy Sharp, a woman with Down syndrome, wanted to be a flight attendant. In August, her dream came true when Southwest Airlines allowed her to be a flight attendant on a trip to Sacramento. Her parents accompanied her on the flight. Tracy Sharp lives with Down syndrome. She always wanted to be a flight attendant, and [...]
Mother and son selfie

When My Son With Down Syndrome Was First Included in a Typical Classroom

In the late 90s’ inclusion was just coming into its own. After much discussion, fear and trepidation, we and the rest of the IEP team decided our son, Daniel (he went by “Danny” then — he prefers the more manly “Dan” now) would join his  fourth grade class, with a para at his side. His [...]