Since hitting the road we’ve spoken with 16 people. While each person we’ve talked to has had a unique experience and relationship with their sibling, there has certainly been a common thread among the majority of our interviews. We walk away from each interview feeling inspired and thankful for that person’s complete honesty. Claire, Ellie, and I were expecting to hear a mix of both positive and negative experiences, but that hasn’t been the case.
We begin most of our interviews by asking someone to describe their sibling to us. Most people just glaze over their sibling’s diagnosis, and instead focus on their positive characteristics. They tell us about their sibling’s personality, what they like to do, how they interact with others. Their sibling’s disability is just a diagnosis, not something that defines their sibling. In fact, we’ve seldom heard the word “disability” in our interviews.
Many people have had a very positive relationship with their sibling. It is important to recognize that although someone may have a positive relationship with their sibling, it does not mean that every memory is a positive one. Having a sibling with special needs has its ups and downs, but for many of the people we’ve interviewed, that’s just the way life is. Their sibling has his or her own set of abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, but many noted that they are like any other sibling. For them, the set of complications that come with having a sibling with special needs is no different than the complications that come with having a “typical” sibling
Although this post is focused on the positive responses we've gotten, I would just like to mention that we have talked to people with more negative experiences as well. There will be some of that in our upcoming posts, but I want it to be clear that not all of our interviews have been positive accounts.
(photo: one of the families we interviewed in Atlanta)