Sibling Support Group
We are a group of adult siblings who meet monthly from September to June year to year. We host a casual get-together to chat about all things related to being an adult sister or brother of someone with a disability. As siblings and volunteers, we want to create a space where people can come together to talk, share, learn, laugh and help each other find resources. We look at things from a sibling perspective, differently than our parents might at times. We support each other by sharing our stories and experiences.
We welcome adult siblings, sib-in-laws and sibling figures at various stages of life as we work through what it means to support our siblings in different ways. We would encourage any sibling who may be interested in meeting up with others, to join us at one of our monthly gatherings.
We are currently meeting virtually. We typically meet the first Thursday of the month from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. (Please note: we are launching our first meeting for Fall 2021 on Thursday, October 14, 2021 – the second Thursday. All other meetings for 2021 through June 2022 will be held the first Thursday.) Below are the dates for our meetings from October 2021 to June 2022:
- October 14, 2021
- November 4, 2021
- December 2, 2021
- January 6, 2022
- February 3, 2022
- Mar 3, 2022
- April 7, 2022
- May 5, 2022
- June 2, 2022
- BREAK FOR SUMMER!
To attend our next meeting, just email us and we will send you a Zoom link for the gathering. Please, also feel free to email us with any questions you have. One of us, will get back to you.
E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected!
Thank you to Windsor-Essex Family Network for encouraging our group to form and supporting us with our own webpage and private email. We appreciate having the autonomy we need as adult siblings.
Check out the books below that we have carefully chosen to add to what already exists in the sibling section of the Lending Library at Windsor-Essex Family Network.
Books About Sibling Relationships
Riding the Bus with My Sister,
A True Life Journey
by Rachel Simon
Rachel Simon’s sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has an intellectual disability, spends her days riding the buses in her unnamed Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asks Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year.
This wise, funny, deeply affecting true story is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyper busy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister’s extraordinary world. Full of life lessons from which any reader will profit, Riding the Bus with My Sister is “a heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past…[that] might just change your life” (Boston Herald).
Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming memoir about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.
Author’s website: http://www.rachelsimon.com/rtb_synopsis_v2.php
Note: Riding the Bus with My Sister was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Rosie O’Donnell and Andie McDowell, and directed by Anjelica Huston.
The Sibling Slam Book: What it’s Really Like to Have a Brother or Sister with Special Needs
Edited by Don Meyer
Give teenagers a chance to say what’s on their minds, and you might be surprised by what you hear. That’s exactly what Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and author of Views from Our Shoes did when he invited together a group of 80 teenagers, from all over the United States and abroad, to talk about what it’s like to have a brother or sister with special needs. Their unedited words are found in The Sibling Slam Book, a brutally honest, non-politically correct look at the lives, experiences, and opinions of siblings without disabilities
Formatted like the slam books passed around in many junior high and high schools, this one poses a series of 50 personal questions along the lines of: What should we know about you? What do you tell your friends about your sib’s disability? What’s the weirdest question you have ever been asked about your sib? If you could change one thing about your sib (or your sib’s disability) what would it be? What annoys you most about how people treat your sib? The Sibling Slam Book doesn’t slam in the traditional sense of the word. The tone and point-of-view of the answers are all over the map.
Special Note: Emma Fialka-Feldman (daughter of Janice Fialka and Richard Feldman, sister of Micah Fialka-Feldman, long-time friends of Windsor-Essex Family Network) is mentioned in the book.
You can visit Emma’s blog here: http://emmaff.blogspot.com/.
Janice Fialka is the author of “What Matters, Reflections on Disability Community and Love” a popular read in our lending library. You can also visit Janice’s blog here: https://www.danceofpartnership.com/index.htm.
Being the Other One: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister who has Special Needs
by Kate Strohm
Being the Other One is based on the author’s own experience (as a sibling of a sister with cerebral palsy) and on extensive interviews she conducted with siblings of all ages. In clear and compassionate terms, Strohm explores the often secret feelings of siblings and offers valuable strategies for coping with the challenges they face.
Being the Other One reveals the difficulties faced by siblings at all stages of life, from early childhood through adulthood, when siblings must often assume responsibility for the care of their disabled brothers and sisters. Though the book looks honestly at the many challenges that siblings face, it is full of encouragement and practical strategies. Strohm emphasizes that when siblings are able to clearly identify and openly express their feelings and concerns—and when parents and health professionals offer the needed support—siblings can thrive.
Link to Book: https://www.shambhala.com/being-the-other-one.html
Nothing Special: The Mostly True, Sometimes Funny Tales of Two Sisters
by Diane Bilyak
A Memoir about Disability and Siblinghood
Nothing Special is a disarmingly candid tale of two sisters growing up in the 1970s in rural Connecticut. Older sister Chris, who has Down syndrome, is an extrovert with a knack for getting what she wants, while the author, her younger, typically developing “Irish twin,” shoulders the burdens and grief of her parents, especially their father’s alcoholism. In Nothing Special, Bilyak details wrestling with their mixed emotions in vignettes that range from heartrending to laugh-out-loud funny, including anecdotes about Chris’s habit of faux smoking popsicle sticks or partying through the night with her invisible friends. Poet and disability advocate Dianne Bilyak strikes a rare balance between poignant and hilarious as she paints a compassionate and critical real-world picture of their lives. They struggle, separately and together, with the tension between dependence and independence, the complexities of giving versus receiving, the pressure to live as others expect, and in the end, the wonderful liberation of self-acceptance.
Author website: http://diannebilyak.com/
Helpful Sibling Organizations & Resources
The Sibling Collaborative, Canada
The Sibling Leadership Network, United States (USA)
Good Things in Life Podcast
#019 Research and resources for siblings with Eric Goll