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Bound by blood, but not always by love, a sibling can be your friend or rival, defender or detractor--sometimes simultaneously! But what’s the impact on that bond when one sibling has a disability?
In this thought-provoking essay collection, thirty-nine adult siblings reflect on how their lives have been indelibly shaped by their relationship with a brother or sister with special needs. Edited by Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and an expert on sibling issues, Thicker than Water reveals both positive and negative aspects of growing up with someone who might have received the lion’s share of his parents’ attention or who now requires extra support as an adult.
These compelling essays express a diverse range of sibling experiences and attitudes. Contributors range in age from 20 to 70 and have siblings whose disabilities include Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, seizures, visual impairment, fragile-X syndrome, intellectual disability, or mental illness. Several essays demonstrate how experiences vary based on a writer’s age and generation. Many older contributors grew up when disabilities were stigmatized; younger contributors can attest to changing attitudes and greater acceptance of people with differences. Some contributors have chosen to work in a disability field or service profession and credit their siblings for influencing their career choices; others have pursued dreams far removed from a disability field.
This absorbing collection offers other siblings the catharsis of discovery and shared experiences. Thicker than Water provides fascinating reading for siblings, parents, caregivers, and anyone who shares a long-term relationship with a person with special needs or wonders what that experience may be like.
A common element in all of the essays is honesty. A sibling writes...
I did the usual things kids do while growing up--had friends--just never brought them home. Participated in Girl Scouts and cheerleading--just never had my family at events. Did Mom sense my embarrassment at having a brother with multiple disabilities--one who’d “whoop” and strike the air with his fist at inappropriate times? (Is there an appropriate time? Football games?) Or was she ashamed of his behavior and I absorbed this shame? Because shame it was. I was ashamed of Jimmy. There. I wrote it. (Can’t quite say it, though.) I was ashamed and now I’m ashamed of my shame.
Other books from Don Meyer:
Views from Our Shoes and The Sibling Slam Book