I found this beautiful post on Moved by Mercy. I have previously written about our daughter, Payton, and how, despite her setbacks, she has always been amazing with her brother. As I read this post I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Dave’s words describe so much of who she is. She has been dealt a blow in life, but her ability to intuitively assist her brother in many aspects and the compassion she shows is just what the author of this post says, she’s hardly typical.
The following is reposted with permission from Moved by Mercy.
by Dave Muirhead
I just learned that today, April 10th, is National Sibling day, a day set apart to celebrate brothers and sisters. The siblings of special needs kids are often referred to as “typical” siblings. Their lives are anything but typical and they, themselves, are anything but typical.
The truth is that typical siblings play a role in families with disabled children that sometimes looks more like a parent than a sibling. They change pull-up’s, help with dressing and feeding, protect against all manner of dangers, serve as Mom’s and Dad’s lookout, and more. Sure, they do those things because its helpful to Mom and Dad, but they also do it out of love for their sibling with special needs.
Typical siblings live in a world that seemingly has a gravitational pull towards their sibling with special needs. They sometimes feel forgotten and often have to settle for Mom and Dad “left-over’s”. Their activities are often constrained by the availability and cost of special needs child care. It’s not an easy life in a lot of ways.
My experience from meeting a number of typical siblings of special needs kids is that, despite all of those challenges – or perhaps because of them – these children are unusually compassionate, patient, accepting and forgiving of others, and kind-hearted.
Maybe the struggles and heartaches they’ve experienced from an early age forestalls the tendency toward self-focus, indifference and hardness of heart.
This is my favorite “typical” sibling, my daughter Shelby, now age 12. What a sweet heart!
Shelby is the typically-developing sibling of her 7-year old special needs brother Jack whom we often call “Jack Jack” for his seemingly “super” ability to be creating catastrophes in two places at once (ever see Jack Jack Attack?)
She endures looking at big machines…on TV…in person…for hours…
From a very young age, Shelby has been one of Jack’s biggest protectors, advocates and comforters.
Shelby loves the Lord and is a real prayer warrior. I’m always blown away when I get to listen in on her conversations with Jesus.
The other evening, Shelby handed me a short essay she wrote about what its like to be the sibling of a child with disabilities. Some of it was hard to read, to be honest.
The essay ended in “typically” Shelby fashion, though. She wrote that she has decided to start a sibling support group as part of the special needs ministry that my wife and I are starting at our church. She wrote that she would get other “typical” siblings together to pray for one another, talk about their struggles, enjoy one another’s fellowship and go do fun activities.
Hardly typical, but I wasn’t surprised. That’s just Shelby.
Do you have a neurotypical child that has amazed you? Do you feel they are special because of what they’ve gone through having a special needs sibling?
*My thanks to Dave and his willingness to share this post with lovin’ adoption’.
You can find out more about Dave’s ministry and see more of his writing at Moved by Mercy.