Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
" In the United States, there are over four million people who have developmental disabilities. Most of these people have brothers and sisters. This book is for them."
There are forty-five sibling essays that consist of one or two pages each along with an appendix that lists the Organizations Serving People with Special Needs. This is alphabetized with phone, fax and online address included. This link has a complete state-by-state listing of Sibshops as well as other sibling programs.
Each essay begins with the full name and age of the author at the top of the page. At the bottom of each essay, in an italic font, is the name and age of the sibling who has a special need as well as the city and state. Also included are the hobbies and interest of each author. I was a bit surprised to see this much detail being included.
There is a little star with a happy face in sunglasses beside the disability mentioned by each author. In the acknowledgements page located before the essays in Views from our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs, it is noted that several people assisted in the brief descriptions of the disabilities and made sure they were accurate.
The descriptions are easy to understand and give examples of how those with these disabilities behave and respond in situations and the characteristics they share. Also covered is visual impairment, autism, transplant, tourette syndrome, physical disabilities and supported living.
I imagine some of the essays could cause embarrassment for some families since the kids were quite honest with their feelings and interpretations. One girl said she did not like when her mother yelled at her disabled brother. Many of the siblings assist in the daily living for their special needs brother or sister. Some of the essays offer advice on how to treat your sibling, while others have attended Sibshops and kept in contact with other siblings.
Each sibling cares for their brother or sister, worries about them when they are at school and has a basic understanding of the therapies involved with their siblings. The older siblings were able to express themselves with details on school placement and going out in the community with their special needs sibling. "My brother can also drive you crazy. He enjoys listening to cassette tapes. When he finds one section that he likes he will play it over and over again for many days."
A common statement from the siblings is how it is hard for them to do things they like because there is no one to watch their sibling with a disability and too hard to bring them along on outings in the community.
This has helped me as a parent to two autistic parents because my older son is verbal and can comprehend that his brother is not like other kids.
Views from our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs is a wonderful compilation of essays from kids all over the United States offering an inside look at the siblings to those with special needs and how they cope and deal with the every day tasks at hand. As one fourteen year old girl summed it up, "Life is sometimes frustrating for the whole family. Sometimes I wonder what my brother is thinking. When he yells, is it a cry of pain or anger or maybe even joy?"
This is a real eye-opener to parents that have other children besides the one with special needs and offers a peak into the feelings of the siblings.
This book would be perfect for a school library and special education classrooms as well as a gift for a sibling to read through and find other siblings in the same situations.
Originally published on Epinions