In the “Ask a question” thread over at the Downsyn.com book discussion, Monica was wondering what I’d noticed regarding the impact of DS on sibling relationships. I thought the question was an excellent one, and I wanted to share my answer here, too.
This is what I said in my reply:
I know that was a recurring theme in my book, the worry I had about how Avery’s life would impact the lives of the other boys. And now, nearly six years into this journey, I can say it’s been very positive. Avery is the heart of our family (we all love him so much!) and I think he really brings out our best qualities.
The other day when we all were out and about, a man stopped me and wanted to talk about Avery (you know what I mean, how sometimes people catch your eye or stop you and you can tell they want to talk about DS). He was kind, and curious, and I had plenty of time, so we talked a while, and at the end of the conversation he said, “You won’t have to worry about Avery joining a gang, or getting into drugs, or any of that.”
I thought about what he said, and agreed, it was probably true. I added, “I think Avery will help his brothers avoid those things, too. I think they are already developing an appreciation for the gifts they have, things many kids take for granted.”
And finally, I don’t think my family is particularly unique in feeling that the sibling relationships have been positive. I had the opportunity to attend a sibling workshop presented by Brian Skotko in Boston last summer at the NDSC. He cited research that indicated these same conclusions–that siblings of kids with DS can find the experience to be a good one, one that teaches compassion and empathy and responsibility. Here’s a link to his website, and some of the papers he’s published including one on sibling relationships.
And I’m wondering, what have been your experiences with sibling relationships? Have you found the same things to be true, for your own family?