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6 Things I’ve Learned From Having Two Siblings With Disabilities

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I’m the oldest of three, and both of my sisters have disabilities. I am in middle school, and so far this what I have learned:

1. Disability isn’t “normal” to other people.

My sister with Down syndrome was born when I was only 2 years old. My sister with cerebral palsy was adopted when I was 4. I don’t have even one memory without my sisters in my life. Disability is all I’ve ever known, and it’s perfectly “normal.” But to other people it’s different, and to some, it’s bad. They stare or ask questions like “What’s wrong with her?” But I can’t be too angry with them, (unless they’re being rude on purpose) because I know that my “normal” is different to theirs; they just don’t know what disability is like.

2. I’m comfortable with disability.

I’m comfortable around people and families with disabilities when usually I’m shy around new people. I think it’s partly because they know or have an idea of what my life is like. Every time my family and I see someone with a disability, we’re automatically like, “Oh, they have Down syndrome!” or “Hey, they have cerebral palsy!” And then of course my mom goes to talk with them. It’s like a big club, where everyone seems to already be friends because we all share disability.

3. My sisters are just my sisters.

Even though other people’s “normal” is different from mine, my relationship with my sisters is just like everyone else’s. We get along, we play together, we don’t get along and we fight, just like most siblings.

4. There are perks.

There are some other perks about having siblings with disabilities. The family gets handicap parking, so we have a close parking spot to where we want to go. When we go to theme parks, we actually get to skip the line and go first on rides. That’s a minor thing, of course, but still pretty nice.

5. The world is not very accessible.

Sometimes there are no ramps. Sometimes we have to ride these tiny/cramped elevators. Sometimes there are no accessible activities at events. And when there is accessibility, like handicap bathrooms and parking spots, people use them when they don’t actually need them. Like, “I want this bathroom because it’s big.” (My mom can act hostile towards these people sometimes, which can be very embarrassing).

6. Some people look down on those with disabilities.

Some people don’t get/understand how to act around people with disabilities. They talk to my sisters like they were babies, which I know really annoys them. Or they talk about them to my parents as if my sisters weren’t there or couldn’t hear them.

Originally published: March 12, 2018
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