The Lessons We Can Learn From Special Needs Siblings

I was typing fast in a rush to get out the door... and get done before JJ's willpower to not touch my computer buttons faded. He was sitting next to me: "Whatchya doin', mama?" he asked about a dozen times.

"Working," I said as I finished up the Special Needs Sibling Week post. Then I realized: "Oh yeah, I'm doing this for you." So I stopped and I show him the picture on yesterday's post: our guest blogger's identical twin girls, one of whom had a severe brain injury.

"Look, twins!" I said. "These are same-same (identical) twins. Do they look the same or different?"

"Different," he said, clearly pleased to be part of mama's work.

"Yes," I said, "but these twins are like you and Malachi. This one can walk and run, like JJ, but this one has cerebral palsy and can't walk, like Malachi."

"Paaal-zie," he said, and I watched his face process this new information. I wondered what was going on behind those raised eyebrows. Finally he said:

"Go to Africa and see flamingoes."

You see, the day before we had gone to the zoo. We went all the way to the Africa part to see their new flamingoes exhibit. JJ seemed to be saying that since they are like him and Malachi, they must have gone to the zoo too.

Clearly the things that are important in his world do not include his brother's ability to walk.

I pressed "Publish" on the post and we rushed out the door to an Anat Baniel Method series we are doing with a traveling practitioner. I dropped him off with new friends who have twin baby girls, one of whom has CP, before going to the ABM lesson where I passed a 3-year-old twin boy who has CP. The bonds of our similar situations and similar treatment philosophy have already brought our three families close — well, as close as twin parents with their notorious lack of free time can be — and I had a vision into the future of playdates and birthday parties.

And suddenly I realized that this thing that I hated so much in the beginning — the pure "Why me?" rage at having not only twins but disability to deal with, no longer felt like such a bizarre twist of fate. I have many online friends who are part of my Parents of Multiples with CP facebook group and I've somehow managed to meet two other families with this situation in the immediate vicinity.

To JJ and Malachi, this life will seem like a perfectly normal part of the spectrum.

And perhaps that's what I've enjoyed most about this week of looking through the eyes of our special needs children's siblings. It takes years for it even occur to them that their siblings are different or that their family is abnormal. To them, it is just life. And it is a good one.

This post is part of Special Needs Sibling Week, a series on siblings of people with disabilities in honor of National Sibling Day, April 10. This week we heard stories from all over the blogosphere:

Monday: Announcement and link-up
Tuesday: Outrageous Fortune: To Typical Twin, Disability is Never Weird or Awkward and Why You Should Think Twice Before Finding Disability Inspiring.
Wednesday: Team Aidan: Having a Special Needs Brother is 'Awesome,' says 13-year-old and These Broken VasesThe Typical Sibling AKA The "Normal" Sister
Thursday: Bringing the Sunshine: When Both (or Neither) of Your Kids are The Other One
Friday: The Fisch Tank: Matters of Severity

Do you blog? Participate in Special Needs Sibling Week by linking up your post below:

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Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 


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