The folks in our group home have brothers and sisters whose lives, from childhood, are obviously different from those who have no siblings with disabilities. The day-to-day needs of a child with disabilities can require a lot more attention than those without disabilities, and that extra attention can mean all the less attention for their brothers and sisters. But they also have an opportunity to develop an awareness of life’s varied gifts and challenges that is greater than “normal,” as well.
We find that these brothers and sisters maintain involvement with their sibling with disabilities to varying degrees. Friendship Community has a “home weekend” each month, in which our individuals, if at all possible, go home with their families for the weekend. But as parents grow older and become unable to do this, some of the brothers and sisters (and even nieces and nephews) will take turns sharing this opportunity to keep up the ties.
There is an organization which focuses on supporting the brothers and sisters of disabled siblings: the SiblingSupportProject:
Here is the website: http://www.siblingsupport.org/
You might want to explore their Sibshops (in their own words, “Sibshops are pedal-to-the-metal celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special needs.”), workshops, and publications, listed prominently on their homepage. Also, both young and adult siblings have internet sites and special gatherings where they can connect, which is listed under Connect with other Sibs.
In Sibs’ Own Words: http://www.siblingsupport.org/connect/in-sibs-own-words
Siblings who have made a difference: http://www.siblingsupport.org/connect/siblings-who-have-made-a-difference