Siblings of children with special needs fill unique roles in their families. Depending on the day and the circumstance, they may need to be their brother’s or sister’s caregiver, cheerleader, advocate or helper. All of these important roles help siblings to learn responsibility, acceptance, diversity and patience at an early age.
As a result of their siblings’ circumstances, siblings may also have questions that they don’t feel comfortable asking their parents for fear of sounding “disrespectful” or “selfish.” Their questions may include: “How does this disability affect how I can play with my sister?” or “Can I go to college? If so, who will help my brother?”
Sibshops are once-a-month, three-hour workshops that offer siblings an opportunity to express themselves, ask questions in a safe place and share their ideas and experiences with one another. The lively workshops are open to children, ages 8 to 13, who have a sibling with a special medical or developmental need. They are held at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem.
Caring and understanding Sibshops facilitators encourage children to discuss their concerns, achievements and love for their sibling(s) through fun activities and games. The objective of all Sibshops activities is to build teamwork and promote sharing, while celebrating the role and contributions of siblings. Facilitators are health professionals from the Good Shepherd staff and are experts in working with children of all ages.
The workshops cost $5 per session and include a snack.