Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Sibling's Voice


A Thanksgiving Message From Mary Reese

       Thanksgiving is the time to count our blessings:  family, home, security and comfort.  We are thankful because soon our family will be celebrating the third anniversary of a proper home for our family member Ginger.  That home is Holly Center in Salisbury, Maryland. 

       Ginger is my sweet and sassy 71 year old Ward who has been intellectually disabled since age 16. In one nightmare weekend of high fevers and multiple seizures, she went from being a joyful, talented, smart and social "bobby sox" teenager to a young woman with profound disabilities and ongoing medical needs.

Keeping a Promise

By Gerri Zatlow

The Voice, Summer 2015

I lost my mother, best friend and partner in crime in June of 2013.  She left me as the eternal protector to my autistic brother Douglas.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I do not feel her loss substantially.  When my brother comes home to visit me each and every weekend, I sometimes miss her more, as the amusing buffer between myself and Douglas’ autism (NOT Douglas the person), is no longer there to make peace, or joke about his strange ways.

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What Tracy Taught Us

Sibling’s Perspective
The Voice, Spring 2015
By Sharon (sister) and Shawn Humberson (niece)

Sharon’s Story

I was 25 years old and the mother of three very active little girls (including Shawn, age 7 at the time) when my parents came to me and asked if I would be embarrassed having a sibling at my age. I was thrilled for them. Although my dad had two grown daughters, my step-mother had never had a child. At 35 years old she had given up and was content to be the best grandmother there ever was to my children. The birth was difficult and my new sister, Tracy, was in the incubator for some time; and didn’t come home from the hospital until she was about 2 weeks old. We knew there were problems but had no idea to what extent.

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Shawn's Story

One might say I’ve been an advocate since I was seven years old; when my aunt, Tracy, was born.  Tracy stole our hearts from the start. I was too young to truly realize the implications of cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation.  I just knew she was a sweet, little baby, my aunt.

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My Sister Jean

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   By Colleen Lutkevich, Executive Director, Massachusetts Coalition of Families and Advocates (COFAR.org)

    Published in The Voice, Summer 2014

   My mother was nine months pregnant with me when my older sister, Jean, six years old, was placed at what was then called the Wrentham State School.  My other sister was twelve, and my younger sister was born two years after me. Read full article

Issues Facing Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Balancing Act in Family Life

National Autism Network

Host: Dr. Robert Naseef

Parents often wonder and worry about how raising a child with autism affects their other children. In this webinar, psychologist Dr. Robert Naseef helps parents explore their own sibling relationships to understand the impact of their child's special needs has on their more 'typical' brothers and sisters. Listen to pick up strategies for meeting everyone's needs.

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About Matt, My Twin Brother

By Jennifer Viox
The Voice, Summer 2013

My name is Jennifer Viox. I am 37 years old and my twin, Matthew Capps, is a resident at Mount Aloysius (“Mt. Al”) in New Lexington, Ohio.

My brother Matt has been living at Mt. Al for nearly twenty years. Without the help of the wonderful, fully trained personnel of places like Mt. Al, my family would have nowhere to turn to for help with my brother. Being severely handicapped is a challenge on its own; trying to live outside his Mt. Al home would not be beneficial to him.

When I was a little girl, I remember how hard it was on my parents. Both were working full-time and raising their three kids, plus the challenges that come with having a child with multiple disabilities.  Matthew has severe intellectual disabilities (“mental retardation”), Autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, and behavioral issues.

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