The Mighty Logo

10 Things You Should Know About Being the Sibling of Someone With Special Needs

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

1. Yes, it’s hard sometimes. It’s not easy watching my brother struggle to communicate with people or struggle to do simple tasks.

2. No, I’d never wish he was “normal.” Who wants to be normal and, for that matter, what is normal anyway? Normal is boring, and I’d love to be as carefree and happy as my brother is.

3. Yes, he gets more attention than I do from our parents. No, it doesn’t make me angry. For one, I go to college four hours from home, so, obviously, he’s going to get more of their attention. I’m not there to steal it from him.

4. Yes, our relationship is the same as any other sibling relationship. I yell at him because he’s mean to me. He chases me around the house. I threaten to not feed him if he’s acting like a 5-year-old. You know how it goes.

5. Yes, I miss my brother while I’m at school. Sometimes, more than I’d like to admit. He’s annoying and sometimes a brat, but he’s my brother, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

6. Just because I have to watch my brother, doesn’t mean I’m actually watching him with my eyes. It usually means he’s playing video games or watching a movie in his room, and I’m watching TV in the living room. When I say I’m watching him, it means I’m making sure he doesn’t run away or burn the house down.

7. Yes, my brother is my hero, and yes, I know that’s cliché. He’s my hero because without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am. I wouldn’t have gotten to watch my brother grow into the amazing person he is or watch him learn how to tie his shoes when he was 12. I wouldn’t have been able to hear my brother finally say the words he stumbled over for so long after going through years of speech therapy. Yes, he’s my hero.

8. No, I’m not always nice to him, but he’s not always nice to me. He kicks me out of the house; I tell him he’s not getting lunch. He acts like a brat when I take him to the store or something; I don’t let him play on the Xbox when we get home. When I play “Frozen” in the car on the way to get food and he yells at me for singing with him, I just keep singing because I want to jam out to “Frozen” too.

9. Yes, I would save his life in a heartbeat. I would do anything for my brother, and if it meant taking a bullet for him, I would. He’s my brother, and when he had surgery about a month ago, he called me and told him to come visit him in the hospital. I almost started crying when I couldn’t because I was at school for the second half of the semester.

10. It’s incredibly rewarding in so many ways. From my brother, not only have I been introduced to a whole different world through Special Olympics, but I’ve learned values some people never learn in their entire lifetime. I’ve learned patience and communication skills. I’ve learned why treating everyone with kindness and love makes the world go round. Have you ever seen a person with special needs lose a competition? I have and, trust me, they know they lost, but do they care? Nope. Not one single bit.

My brother’s name is Austin. He’s 21 years old and has Down syndrome and ADHD. I promise I always feed him, and I promise I never actually hurt him. Like I said, he’s my hero and I love him. 

 The Mighty wants to read more stories about siblings, whether it’s your favorite memory or a tough moment that taught you something. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Originally published: May 5, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home