Support for non-disabled siblings

March 19, 2009 10:04:01 AM PDT
Having a sibling with a disability is not always easy. Many need a support network to share their experiences. It's bowling night for teens from Illinois Masonic hospital's Sibshop.

"It's really about enjoying each other 's company, celebrating the good things as well as maybe talking bout some of the difficult things that come about when you have a brother or a sister with a disability," said Coordinator Sheila Swann Guerrero.

Guerrero says Sibshops has been a supportive network for non-disabled siblings for 20 years.

"They might not get the same amount of time with their parents as they would like to have, and often in our sib groups, giving children the opportunity to express that and then hear that other brothers an sisters are experiencing the same thing kind of gives them the green light that it's ok."

Sixteen-year-old John Dahlstrom has been involved with Sibshop for many years. His older sister has Williams syndrome.

"There are times that are frustrating and there are times that are ok," said Dahlstrom.

He says being around other brothers and sisters who have sibling with disabilities has been great.

"It's really nice to just get to know other kids that have siblings with disabilities, because sometimes you just feel a little singled out in school and things, and to get to know that there are kids out there with problems like yours is good," Dahlstrom said.

His mom Sylvia Castle see the benefit of Sibshop.

"I think Sibshop is an excellent program, and I would love to see it grow, but I want to see it grow slowly so that Sheila doesn't get overwhelmed and so that she can provide this great services," said Castle.

"What has stayed consistent through the years in research are that children who get support who get and opportunity to meet other children with a brother or sister with a disability learn that disability can be a very positive thing in someone's life and you can have fun with it," said Guerrero.

Illinois Masonic Pediatric Development Center's Sibshop is the only one in the Chicago area. They have them all over the country.

For more information and schedule of activities visit

Direct link to Advocate Illinois Masonic Pediatric Developmental Center Sibshops