We hear a lot about sibling rivalry but not so much about sibling love. From the minute BJ clapped eyes on AJ in the hospital he was besotted. As soon as AJ could reach out she started gently grabbing onto BJ’s face. There was an instant rapport between the two. Where BJ bum shuffled, AJ would bum shuffle right behind. They played together, cuddled up on the lounge together and generally became best buds.
AJ wrote about BJ for a test at school when she was younger. The question was, “who is your hero and why.” AJ said BJ was her hero because everything was hard for him but he always stayed happy. I thought it was cool that she was young but had recognised this quality in BJ. That’s not to say everything is smooth sailing all the time but their bond is something very special.
So, today we celebrate sibling love and I’m thrilled that some of our readers have shared their stories.
My brother, Andrew, and I are really close despite a 9 year age gap. We have our own ways of communicating – some of which originated from strategies to support Andrew’s communication, but most of which look a lot like normal sibling interactions. We have our own routines when we go out and about – some of which might stem from Andrew’s intellectual abilities, but most of which are actually just the way one or both of us likes to do things. We spend time together at home doing things like playing games on the Wii, cooking, and reading books – some of which supports Andrew’s fine motor and literacy skills, but most of which are also functional ways to cure boredom when we’re both at home.
Andrew’s disability has meant that our relationship as siblings is very different to what it might otherwise have been, but in so many ways I think it’s a very positive difference. Not many 14 year old boys will still cuddle with you on the couch while watching a movie, or lack self-consciousness in ‘performing’ dramatically and musically for family members and friends. While I wish that Andrew didn’t face the challenges he does, particularly with communication, the ways in which we overcome these struggles bring us closer together and ultimately, make our love as siblings stronger.
Edvard 6 and Eliza 4
Exact quotes as they fought over dinosaurs in the bath. What would you say about Eliza “Watermelon dinosaur Eliza” “I love her so much. She likes dinosaurs like me. She’s cheeky and funny. And very naughty Sometimes she stinks. Annoying, very good, touches my dinosaurs. Very cool being in a wheelchair. She even has a dummy. Sometimes a bit pushy.”
Lily 7 –
I love the way he gives me cuddles and the way he watches Peppa Pig with me. He looks very cute with his new glasses on and I like the way he sleeps with Jerry (his toy giraffe); it’s very cute. I know Sylas loves me too because he gives me cuddles and big wet kisses!
Tommasina’s experience as a sibling.
I am a sibling to two incredible individuals with a disability. They have shaped who I am and taught me what compassion and unconditional love truly is.
My siblings inspired me to study psychology. I now work as a psychologist in disability services.
As we all age our needs increase and change. It can be difficult at times. The positive regard, loyalty and care we have for one another helps us get through each day. It is such a significant life transition for us all but I know we will get through because we are a strong unit.
Belinda’s little girl says –
‘I love him because he is my brother and sometimes he lets me ride on the back of his chair’
ANONYMOUS – MOTHER’S OBSERVATION OF HER CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIP
Sibling relationships can be incredibly complex.
So often I have heard horror stories of sibling jealousy and rivalry;
of siblings who grow up resenting their disabled sibling for taking their parent’s time, money and energy, but I am here to say it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are some siblings who share amazingly close relationships, who look out for each other from birth, who are best friends, and who will defend each other to death if need be. They stand up and advocate, they give up their time, they make sacrifices and they celebrate each other.
I am proud to be the parent of two young women, one of whom has significant physical disabilities.
For many years my young adult daughter has had a dream of visiting Salzburg, Austria, visiting Italy, spending more time in her favourite city in the world (London), and experiencing a white Christmas. Her significant physical needs mean it takes two people to support her when she travels.
This year her dream comes true, but at a cost. Her sister will defer a semester at uni, putting her life on hold, to support her sister to make this dream come true.
It’s not a paid role, it will cost her time and significant amounts of energy but she has never said she won’t do it.
Why? because she loves her sister and wants to see her sister’s dream come true.
It’s not the first time she has stepped up to bat for her sister. At three she called the ambulance while her sister was having a seizure and I wasn’t free to go to the phone, she has missed countless days at school due to her sister’s appointments, tolerated staring and comments from uneducated people, advocated and educated others.
She attends all her sister’s AAC presentations at uni to provide I-T support, attends conferences to support her sister and watches out for her constantly.
Their love and concern for each other is mutual though. From an early age, my daughter who has a disability watched out for her sister, calling out if she thought her sister was in danger, protecting her from the days they shared a pram with a ‘my little sister, back off! ‘ glint in her eye.
Like any other young women, they share clothes, loan money to each other, fret if the other is not home at the expected time, guard each other’s reputation and will not tolerate anyone speaking ill of the other. Of course, they scrap, that’s what sisters do, but they always make up and love each other through thick and thin.
Truly, they are siblings by birth, and friends by choice.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this post. It is wonderful to be able to share these varying experiences.
I wrote a blog post about how we ensure AJ feels appreciated as a sibling to BJ here.
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