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Sibling bonds: growing up with a sister with disabilities

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

I don't have any kids; I am not a mum.

So - how can I help you?

Well, I have spent a good part of my life supporting my mum with the care of my sister, who has a disability. She is an incredible young lady who has Down Syndrome and Tourette's. She is pretty independent but still requires care and can create a lot of work at times! So I get the stress! However, this article is not just about that; it is about the special bond I have with her and how much I love her.

When my sister was born, I was so excited! I was staying at my grandma's at the time, and my mum rang up and told me she had a girl. What's her name? I asked, and she replied with 'Alexia'. I didn't know there was anything different at the time. They might have told me she had Down Syndrome and had to have a heart operation, but to me, she was just my sister. As I grew older, there were a multitude of people coming through the house: therapists and the like. Again, to me, this was just a normal part of life – I didn't know anything different. As expected with children with Down Syndrome, my sister's development was slow – she didn't walk until she was two and a quarter, and there was a delay with her speech, but she sure knew how to get into mischief 😉. From pulling out books off a whole bookshelf to climbing into drawers, she was a little monkey, always on the go.

As she was my only sister, she and I had a special bond from day 1. I loved to hold her; she was so tiny and even fit inside a 'chou-chou' doll box. As she got older, I would play 'make-believe' games, which were her favourite. She especially loved pretending to be a nurse, and it's not a wonder with all the hospital experience she had! As she got even older, I would plan birthday parties for her – Frozen, ballet, and cowgirl themes featured at different times, but 'The Wiggles' remains a favourite for the ages! She still loves dress-ups, and nearly everyone she comes into contact with gets given the name of a Wiggles character 😊

And finally, I thought I would share some funny interactions with my sister; I hope these put a smile on your face like they did mine 😊

· "I've got a different attitude. That means I've got Down Syndrome and (friend) hasn't."

· I said, "yay, it's nearly the weekend". Alexia scoffs and says, "it's only two sleeps… don't get excited just yet."

· Alexia says, "I am full Irish, and I'll tell you why I'm full Irish. Because my great great grandma's full Irish, that's why I am."

I say "no."

She says, "yes, that's how it works."

I say, "no, it's not how it works."

She says, "Yes, it is. I'm calling the shots on full Irish."

· "When older people take their teeth out, how do they yawn? How do they cough when they take their teeth out?"


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