Stephanie began looking after Mick at a young age. It was only a matter of time before she realized her sibling was different than her friends’ siblings. “No one else was watching their big brother. I was the only person like that,” Stephanie said. Because of his seizures, Mick needs to be constantly monitored. This circumstance turned Stephanie into a built-in caregiver growing up. Mick has autism and epilepsy. His large stature can be intimidating but he is actually very kind and mild. “We are very blessed to have him,” Stephanie said.
Glass Child Syndrome is Real
Sometimes, when a child has a disability, the sibling becomes the “glass child.” The parents will look through that child’s needs and focus on the child with the disability. In an effort to save her parents from additional stress, Stephanie kept quiet about her own struggles for much of her childhood. Now that she is older, she’s been able to get professional help to reduce her stress levels.
Having a Sibling with Autism Teaches True Sacrifice
“Sacrifice is the best way to show your love,” Stephanie said. When caring for a sibling with a disability, you sacrifice a lot of your time. However, you sacrifice much more than that. It also includes your talents, knowledge, and patience to name a few. “Giving multiple parts of yourself at once…is the truest form of love,” Stephanie said.
Advice for Parents: Get Real with Your Kids
“Be real with your kids, especially when they are given the responsibilities of caring for their sibling with a disability,” Stephanie said. You should be honest with them. Tell them you can’t do it alone and you need their help. Chances are, if you show them what to do, they will gladly do it. Stephanie’s upbringing wasn’t easy because of what was expected of her. But this last year has been life-changing. “I’ve taken steps to really embrace who I am and embrace the fullness of myself,”