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Fasten Your Seatbelt
A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters
Brian Skotko & Susan P. Levine


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isbn# 978-1-890627-86-7
6" x 9"
191 Pages
Ages 11-19

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"Brothers and sisters who have a brother or sister with Down syndrome get asked lots of questions. They also have their own questions to ask. The purpose of the book is to provide answers to those questions, and help prepare siblings to not only answer questions they are asked, but also share correct information.

The authors traveled to workshops and conferences across the country where they hosted brother and sister meetings. At each meeting they asked attendees to write their questions then discussed the answers. This book is a compilation of 100 of those questions about Down syndrome, family issues, feelings, dealing with uncomfortable situations, and more.

This book, the result of research, commonsense and experience, while written for siblings, has useful information for all family members, as well as friends, teachers, coaches, and others. If you need an answer fast, the summary points at the conclusion of each chapter provide great guidance, even if you haven’t read the entire chapter or book. And there’s a wealth of local and national resources in the resource chapter."
-Newsline, Summer 2010 (Federation for Children with Special Needs)

"Written by a physician and a social worker working in the United States, this book is based on questions from 3,380 siblings collected over many years. Organized around a driving theme, the nine chapters cover important issues such as the facts about Down Syndrome, how they learn, family issues, dealing with frustrating behaviors and uncomfortable situations, sorting out sibling's feelings, becoming an advocate, looking to the future, and resources (child and teen appropriate). The book is a good resource for siblings of children with Down syndrome and their families.

The book is clearly and simply written with a summary at the end of each chapter. Interested teens could read it on their own and parents could read sections specific to younger children's questions with them. The authors avoid jargon and carefully explain terms. Perspectives on issues such as inclusion and separate education are balanced presenting pros and cons. Stereotypes of persons with Down syndrome are addressed.

There is minimal repetition between chapters even though some questions are relevant in more than one chapter. The authors report siblings' own solutions to difficult situations (traffic jams). Suggestions are positively framed and siblings' feelings are validated. Information specific to the United States context is minimal. There are no obvious questions which have been missed. Some questions are treated at a surface level (dating versus sexuality) which is appropriate for a book that addresses multiple age levels and varying beliefs.

This book is recommended reading and could be used as a basis for sibling meetings or for newsletter articles. It addresses the diversity of Down Syndrome and celebrates all that is possible for these children and their families."
-Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2010

"It may be a ‘crash course’ but this book’s wisdom is for the ages – heart felt and head smart."
-Dr. Tim Johnson, Medical Editor, ABC News

"Skotko and Levine address preteens and teenagers who have a sibling with Down syndrome, answering questions that have been generated through their work with this population. Siblings want to know everything from what causes this condition to how to be protective and how they can make sure things are fair at home. They want to help when they can, but don't want to be burdened with too much responsibility. In clear, concise language, the authors ensure that siblings know that all of these concerns are normal and they are careful to honor their feelings. They point out that it's okay to feel jealous of a sibling with Down syndrome, just as it's okay to feel jealous of any sibling at different points in the life of a family. The authors are also quick to suggest that readers consult with their parents or seek help from another adult if situations get too difficult to manage. With a wealth of information, numerous resources, and the reassurance that all siblings of people with disabilities sometimes go through periods of contradictory feelings, this is an excellent guide for young people who are trying to figure out how to negotiate an often-confusing relationship."
-School Library Journal

"Dr. Brian Skotko is a physician who specializes in children with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Susan Levine is a co-founder and social worker at Family Resource Associations, Inc. She conducts support programs for parents and siblings of children with differing abilities. Skotko and Levine have taken 100 questions from brothers-and-sisters conferences for siblings of people with Down syndrome and put the questions and answers into book format. The questions were anonymous and taken from conferences all over the country. The questions are open and honest; the answers are very informative. The questions cover a wide range of topics. Many of the questions deal with everyday situations common to any sibling relationship--chores, privileges, and sibling rivalry to name a few. There are also some that deal with more sensitive issues such as dating, driving, and personal space. The authors suggest resources such as web sites and organizations within the scope of their answers and in the last chapter of the book. In addition, the last chapter also provides the names of other books related to having a sibling with Down syndrome that may be of interest to the reader. Fasten Your Seatbelt includes an index. The book is targeted to preteens and teens but much of the information presented would be helpful to anyone with a relationship to someone who has Down syndrome."
-CAPHIS Consumer Connections

"This guide to the world of Down syndrome for teenagers is written in your own language and filled with shared experiences and ideas on how to be a great brother or sister."
—Allen Crocker, Down Syndrome Program, Children’s Hospital Boston

"I highly recommend this book. Brothers and sisters of people with Down syndrome will undoubtedly find reading it a tremendously educational and rewarding experience."
—Jon Colman, President, National Down Syndrome Society

"This is a wonderful hands-on, practical guide for families. It answers all those questions you have and don't know who to ask. I wish we'd had a copy growing up!"
—Jennifer Owensby, sister of a person with Down syndrome and Producer & Director of The Teachings of Jon

"A valuable support book for kids who experience the challenges of having a sibling with down syndrome."
-NATHHAN/CHASK NEWS, Fall/Winter 2009-2010

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