Sometimes being a sibling is hard. After all, Mom and Dad’s time and resources are limited. Try splitting that attention and money by 2, or 3. How about 4 or 5? This is the kind of change that can turn a child’s world upside down, even if they like their brothers and sisters.
Introduce a special needs child into the family, and — despite the blessing and joy– the time and attention given to the other children by caregivers changes dramatically, even if only for select seasons.
Katie Corkern, a southern Louisiana mother of three learned this reality first hand. It all began in 2006 when her son, Connor, was born with very complex special needs, including daily medication-resistant seizures.
As she raised Connor, Katie began to understand the sacrifices required of siblings of kids with special needs. Upon this revelation, this passion mom decided that it was time siblings to special needs children got the recognition they deserve. That’s when she penned and posted this letter online, where it’s gone viral.
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I heard you’re the sibling to a child with special needs, and I wanted to write you a letter explaining why you have a one-up on life. I know your life might seem hard or different from your friends, but trust me, you most definitely will be more prepared for this life than anyone else. Let me explain…
I’m certain that being the sibling to a child with different needs is a struggle. I know you have those moments where your heart stings with jealousy, where you’re worried sick over your sibling. I know you have those moments when you get mad because you can’t go to all the birthday parties you want to.
All of those times are totally understandable. You have a right to be upset every now and then, but I can bet that you can think of some pretty cool things you have in your household that your friends don’t. How about all the cool equipment your sibling has, huh? I know you’ve climbed into that wheelchair or played with his super cool assistive technology toys. How about getting to see your sibling reach a milestone and that proud feeling that overcomes your body? You get to experience a friendship like no other. Your sibling completely and utterly trusts and loves you with a love that can penetrate the coldest heart. They look at you with those beautiful eyes and know you’re there for them no matter what.
The bond you have is indescribable. You’re their sibling, their friend and their protector. Your sibling might not speak verbally, but we both know your hearts together carry on conversations us adults could never possibly understand. And I tell you what, we’re so extremely jealous.
Did you know your parents watch you and your sibling’s interactions on a daily basis and their heart literally wants to burst out of their body with pride and love? They see everything you do for your brother or sister. They notice when you walk by and give them a quick kiss, stroke their hair or give them a hello. Your mom and dad love to witness you sticking up for your special sibling or when you go out of your way to make sure he or she is included in everything. They quietly observe you as you help with therapies, put oxygen masks back in place and hold hands during tests or doctor visits. Your parents recognize every time you perch yourself on the counter to help prep medicines or bring them a diaper, a syringe or whatever else they need. You do such an amazing job helping your parents. It surely takes a wonderful little boy or girl to do what you do on a daily basis. I’m sure they tell you thank you, but sometimes if they don’t just know they are beyond thankful for you.
But most important of all, my dear one, the reason you are going to rock this life: You know true love, you know true heartache and you know what’s truly important. You have lived a life that takes a strong heart and a strong mind. You will mature much faster than your schoolmates (don’t be too hard on them), you’ll exhibit compassion that astounds others, you’ll know more about healthcare than 95 percent of adults you pass on the street, and you will most definitely have a wicked sense of humor that will enable you to keep life joyful no matter what. When you were introduced to your sibling with complex needs for the first time, that moment in time is pinned in the stars, for it was then that your destiny was determined. You will be an awesome human being and you’re going to change lives for the better… all because you were the sibling of a child with special needs.
Rock on, my brave friend.
All my love,
The momma of a child like you and your special sibling
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