To my sibling with special needs,
While I know you won’t ever read this (or even know that this exists), I felt that it was necessary to incorporate you into my work and passion somehow. Honestly, it would be unfair if one of my biggest inspirations wasn’t credited or mentioned.
It breaks my heart that I can’t share this piece with you in a way that I would like; having you read it and be able to appreciate what I think of you. What brings me joy, though, is that I can share my admiration for you with the world on a platform larger than anyone can comprehend.
Allowing everyone to know just how much I admire and respect you is a victory in and of itself.
Growing up with a sibling that is different from you can be perplexing and in many ways challenging for the entire family. I was a child, myself when you were diagnosed with your disorder. You had always seemed different from me, but I knew nothing else except that you were my sibling and I loved you.
It was easy to learn that you would need more attention and accommodations from Mom and Dad, but I quickly realized you would also need more attention from me. This wasn’t something that phased me, though, because anyone would do anything for their brothers and sisters. I knew in times of stress, anxiety, rage, and mischief that you would need me to be there to support and assist you.
To this day, nothing makes me feel happier or more satisfied than when I successfully help you through a troubling episode.
I truly feel that I am privileged to have grown up with a sibling with special needs. Of course, a lot of the time I am saddened by the pain and frustration I see our parents experience, and the struggle to effectively communicate with one another will forever be something we have to deal with.
Despite these obstacles, though, you, alone, have made me a better person.
Having lived with you most of my life, I learned how to be much more patient, calm, sympathetic, empathetic and creative. These are all things I could have learned on my own as I grew older, but I was lucky to adopt these traits and habits early on because of you. I know that there’s no perfect way to thank you for this, but I truly owe so much of who I am today to you.
I can also attribute my desire to become involved in the special needs community to you.
My experience growing up with you has made me feel more confident when working with children and adults with all kinds of needs than I would have felt without you being in my life. I’ve been given amazing opportunities to be a leader and friend to those with special needs in our town, schools and local organizations because of your involvement, and I feel more motivated to continue being an active member as the years go by.
Although you may not have intended this, you have encouraged me to be brave, helpful and involved when around those who are different from me, no matter how big or small those differences between us may be. I never feel scared or confused when around members of these communities because you have shown me that being different is a good thing, not a downfall or something to be insecure about.
If I were given the ability to change the way you are or make you more like me, I wouldn’t dare jump on that opportunity because you are truly one of a kind and make me so happy.
Despite days of frustration, weeks of sadness, months of anger and years of uncertainty, I would still choose you as my sibling time and time again, just the way you are. Seeing eye to eye at all times does not necessarily equate to a perfect relationship, but our oddities and contradictions are what make us work well as a cohesive unit, as siblings.
My love and respect for you grow stronger each and every passing day because I know I am too weak to ever be able to live your life every single day. It takes an immense amount of courage and strength to be able to continually wear a big, genuine smile on your face every day for the world to see.
You have changed my life in every way imaginable, and for that, I am forever thankful.