The funding The Arc of Cabarrus received for 2010 from Speedway Children’s Charities was used to advance Sibshops, a support program for children in 3rd through 8th grades who have a sibling with special needs.  Kids who attend Sibshops have an opportunity to interact with other kids who have brother or sister with a disability in fun and unique team building activities.

We receive many thanks and compliments from the parents and sibs who attend Sibshops, and we’ve asked one of our parents to share with you their success story and how Sibshops has impacted the lives of two of her children who attend:

“I realized while pregnant with my third child that something wasn’t quite the way it should be with my unborn son.  He wasn’t diagnosed until 16 months old, but it was a diagnosis that brought a wave of relief. I finally knew.  Those first 16 months were so hard. He always cried and screamed. Everything seemed to cause him pain, but I couldn’t help him. There were many times I walked over to my Mom’s and knocked on her door. When she answered, I would hold him out to her with tears streaming down my face.

My older two kids were struggling also. They had become stressed and withdrawn. They would tell me that they felt like I never had time for them. They loved their brother and were a huge help, but they were so tired. It seemed there was always so much extra work that needed to be done. In addition to extra chores, our social life had all but disappeared. We couldn’t go shopping or out to eat. Anything that involved lots of activity, people, noise or lights was to much for our newest arrival. Everything had changed. They would often sit in the next room covering their ears, holding each other and crying because they couldn’t ease their youngest brother’s screams.

Then we found SibShops!  The children were a little apprehensive about their first visit. They felt that no one else could possibly know what it’s like to have a little brother like theirs. He always screamed! They never got to go anywhere. Their friends couldn’t come over.

After that first visit, the children were all smiles. They rapidly began to tell me about not only their new friends, but their friends sibs (that’s SibShop speak for Sibling). They told me how one friend had to deal with their sib screaming all the time. Another friend told them that they couldn’t have friends over because anything “out of the ordinary” caused serious issues with their sib. Another told them that everywhere they went, their sib had to go because there wasn’t anyone to watch him!

The change in my children since attending SibShops has been incredible. They no longer feel that their life is lacking. It’s different and they’ve learned that different is OK. They no longer worry that their brother is never going to be able to “have his own life” because they’ve met adults in SibShops that have had to cross hurdles and obstacles similar to those their brother will have to face. They’ve become educated, not only on their own brother’s needs, but the needs of other families as well. They show an understanding to others that I had not seen before and are quick to help families who aren’t considered “typical”. They reach out to those with health problems, physical ailments, and other special needs. Most importantly, SibShops has instilled in them a sense of belonging. They know that they can go there and talk about the stress they have in their life. They know that they won’t be judged but that their feelings will be validated. They know that it’s OK, and that as each day goes by, they’ll learn a little bit more about what can be done to make life a little bit easier for everyone.