Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Type your slogan here

Personal tools

This is SunRain Plone Theme
You are here: Home / COVID-19 Resources / A Message about COVID-19 and Community

A Message about COVID-19 and Community

Dear Friends,

Isolation is a familiar feeling and unfortunate reality for many siblings of people with special developmental, health and mental health concerns. 

In her book, “A Difference in the Family,” Helen Featherstone, the mother of a child significantly impacted by disabilities, recognizes the isolation of sibs.

"In dealing with the wider world of friends, classmates and teachers,” she writes, typically developing siblings “can feel painfully different."

Today, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of us feel isolated from our friends, extended family members, colleagues and communities. We feel the loss of the people, places, and routines that filled our daily lives. We are challenged to find new ways to learn, work, connect and play in an unpredictable environment.

From Isolation to Community

Our mission at the Sibling Support Project remains the same as when Don Meyer founded the program in 1990:  To provide brothers and sisters of people with disabilities opportunities for information, support, and connection with each other. 

Today, as a proud program of Kindering, we support siblings through more than 500 Sibshops across the U.S. and in 16 countries around the world. We publish books and articles, facilitate online groups for teens and adults, and promote understanding of siblings and how to support them through podcasts, webinars, workshops and trainings.

At the heart of our work is the belief that siblings are special, too, and the knowledge that we are better together.

Redefining Together

The global COVID-19 pandemic now challenges all of us to redefine – and find new ways of – being together.

Sibshops across the country and around the world that usually provide in-person gatherings that young siblings look forward to, sometimes for weeks, are innovating to connect.

Creative facilitators from Boston to Buenos Aires are using technology to launch virtual Sibshops featuring remote talent shows, art lessons, cooking activities and more! Sibshops are also connecting in more traditional ways, through phone calls, cards, and letter exchanges. You can check our online directory of registered Sibshops and search by state to find a local Sibshop, and inquire about virtual options that are currently available.

While many in-person Sibshop Facilitator Trainings are being postponed, the Sibling Support Project is considering new ways to ensure that young brothers and sisters in every community have access to the same kinds of resources provided through Sibshops.

Nothing will ever replace the magical experience of getting young siblings together to play games, share experiences, exchange ideas, and build incomparable bonds through unspoken understanding. The energy that fills the room during a Sibshop is electrifying.

Yet we are compelled, by the current circumstances and the knowledge that there are many, many more siblings who need our support, to find new ways to reach out. With creativity, collaboration and responsiveness to the people we support, we will evolve to meet this challenge.

Resources and Tips

In the short term, we have compiled a few resources to support siblings and the parents, family members, and professionals who care about them.

            Online Resources for Children and Parents to Learn and Play at Home

            Remote Sibshop Activity Ideas

            Recommended Reading List for Young Siblings

            COVID-19 Resources for Children

These lists are starting points that we hope you will download and add to as you discover even more resources.

We would also like to offer a few words to siblings, parents and professionals as we all navigate this unchartered territory together.

For young siblings:  Hang in there!  We know that many of you are at home with your families, and that this may be a stressful time for everyone. Being home together, all day, every day, in the same space, can be hard! You might be getting used to learning at home, and you probably miss seeing your friends. Your parents might be worried about work, or working from home, and trying to take care of you AND your sibling(s).  It might feel like they don’t have enough time for you.  Maybe your brother or sister with special needs is having a tough time, and it might feel really hard to be around them.  Please remember to take some special time every day to do something that is fun for you!  Play a favorite game, work on a puzzle, go outside, draw, color, or build something cool from Legos, Magna Tiles, or pillows and blankets (like forts!). Ask your parents if you can bake cookies together or cook a meal.  Have a picnic indoors or outside! If you need to be by yourself, take a break and have some quiet time alone. Most of all, remember that you will not be stuck at home forever!  You will go back to school, see your friends, play your favorite sports, sing, dance, and do all the things you love to do, as soon as it is safe. Please know that we – and so many people who are part of the Sibshops and Sibling Support Project family – are thinking about you.  We care.  And we know that we will all get through this together!  

For adult siblings:  We see you, we hear you, we are with you! We see your videos and read your emails, blogs and posts daily. We know that you are concerned about your brothers and sisters, especially those who at higher risk to contract the COVID-19 virus due to underlying medical conditions, support needs for taking precautionary measures, and necessary physical contact with others to accomplish essential daily activities. We understand your frustration about being geographically distant, your concerns that people with disabilities may not receive needed COVID-19 testing and treatment, and your worries about not being able to do enough to support their well-being.  We know you are concerned about your parents, your own families, and yourselves.  The struggle to juggle everyone’s needs has never been more real. Now, more than ever, self-care is crucial. We sibs aren’t always the best at taking care of ourselves (sound familiar?), but it is important to find small ways every day to invest in your own well-being. Walk, run, pedal, bake, cook, garden, build, paint, draw, read, Zoom, stretch, watch, sing, dance, meditate. Breathe. Consider joining SibNet or Sib20 on Facebook to connect with other siblings who can relate and validate. Do something that makes you happy. You may not be able to change or control all the things that you are worried about, but you will be much better equipped to manage your concerns constructively and be there for the people you love.

For parents: Please remember that a little goes a long way. We know you are tending to several priorities daily, and probably feeling that there just isn’t enough time or energy to get it all done. We understand that many parents are concerned about keeping jobs and/or doing them remotely. We realize that homeschooling is not easy. We recognize the added challenges of caring for a child with special needs. Family dynamics, the good and not-so-good, can be amplified when everyone is stuck under one roof, with limited options for breaks. Your typically developing kiddo(s) may be feeling isolated and overlooked. If your child with special needs is experiencing difficultly adjusting to the current circumstances, and having challenging behaviors as a result, please consider the impact on your other child(ren). We invite you to read our paper on how parents can show young siblings you care. You can help siblings feel validated and heard in small ways, every day. Even just a few minutes of your undivided attention, of actively listening and being present with your typically developing child, can go a long way in demonstrating your love and support. This may also recharge your own batteries in unexpected ways!

For professionals:  Thank you. We are grateful to all the professionals who continue to provide vital health, mental health, and a variety of social services during this unprecedented time. Special thanks to the Sibshop Facilitators, child life specialists, teachers, counselors, therapists, clinicians and others who share our belief that siblings are special, too, and who continue to remember, care about, and support them.

Onward

From the heart of the Sibling Support Project in Washington State, we hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and in good spirits. We are confident that we will all come through this together, with a new appreciation for the people, places and things that fill our lives with meaning and joy.

Thank you for being part of our community.

 

With Best Wishes,

EH Signature 2 

Emily Holl, Director

 

To support the Sibling Support Project, please click here.

 

 

Join Us At One of Our Workshops or Training Events
The only way to become a first-generation Sibshop facilitator is to attend a two-day Sibshop training.

Even if you don't want to  become a Sibshop facilitator, you can join us for the first day for a lively and rewarding discussion of sibs' issues across the lifespan. 

Please know:
Registration costs are determined by the agencies hosting the workshops and trainings.  For information and to register, please contact these agencies directly. 

Below you'll find dates for upcoming Sibshop facilitator trainings and other sibling workshops.  If you'd like to discuss hosting a training in your community, please drop us a line at