29 October 2011
Disabled Siblings Imagine living life being incapable of doing normal activities. I know somebody who is. My brother’s name is Christopher and he was diagnosed with Angelmen’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and a seizure disorder at birth. He is twenty-four, functioning at the developmental level of a two year old. Many people will say that it is unfortunate that my family and I have to struggle with Christopher’s special needs. From my perspective, it is not a shame it is a gift. I would not be the person I am today if it were not for Christopher having an impact on my life. Although living with a disabled child modifies all aspects of family functioning, the effects of having a handicapped brother reveal themselves in many positive ways.
The amount of limitation Christopher experiences makes it impossible for him to develop maturity. Conversely, being a sibling of an individual with special needs has increased my emotional maturity level. Disabled children require much more attentive care than ordinary children. Ever since I was a little girl, having Christopher as my brother forced me to have more responsibilities than any other average child. Considering his special needs, it is always difficult for my mother to find a babysitter. This means that early on, I had to handle changing diapers, giving medication, and learn to restrict him from things that are hazardous to his disabilities. As a result, I felt pressure to be mature in order to take charge of specific instructions when my parents needed me to. Initially, I felt resentment for having these responsibilities. However, I have become well adjusted with balancing my priorities, academics, and family pressures without grief. Overall, assisting with Christopher has had a positive impact on me. As much as I love Christopher, and value what I have learned from caring for him, many of the things I’ve experienced are difficult. Activities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, and physically ambulating are all regular duties. Christopher is completely dependent on whoever it is that takes care of him. Therefore, having a special needs brother requires undivided attention and limits what we can do as a family. When it comes to planning activities as a family, my mother and Christopher were almost never included. It is almost impossible to give Christopher the care he needs outside of the home. Anywhere that requires a long walking distance, stairs, gravel, sand, or water is out of the question because my brother is in a wheel chair. This excludes all water parks, beaches, carnivals, fields, baseball games so on and so forth. Unfortunately, my family is unable to plan certain activities as often as we would like to, but, we try to as often as we can because whenever Christopher is outdoors or around people, he is happier than he’s ever been. Overall, having Christopher as my brother has made me better appreciate the different types of people there