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Whenever I see other Sibs, especially young children I feel sad. I worry about their future. I worry if their parent(s) is/are doing all they can to give that child, the one without the disability, a fighting chance in this world. Are they getting to live their own life? Are they getting the chance to pursue their own dreams? Are they getting a chance to figure out who they are? Will they get the chance to secure themselves financially before taking on the responsibility of caring for their sibling with DS?

i feel sad

Or are their parents already thrusting the responsibility of caring for their sibling on them? Will that child have to take on that caregiver role long before their parents have passed on? Will the parents have a plan and thus, make it easier for the sibling to take over once they are gone?

When I see other siblings, I just want to hug them and ask them if they are okay. Sometimes, I wish I had a magic formula to give all Sibs, which would help them along their journey.

Caregiver: Alicia love yourself Country: Jamaica

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    1. Hi there, I used to date a girl whose brother was mildly autistic.  Now, I know there is a difference between DS and someone on the autism spectrum but I believe I can empathise to a certain extent.  This guy was a little bit quiet around larger groups of people and didn’t like to make eye contact but I somehow connected with him over a shared love of astronomy.  

      All I can say is that don’t feel too bad about it and I hope that doesn’t oversimplify the issue or trivialise it but there is hope, I believe and society can be harsh on whom we perceive as different.  Even though I don’t think we have very ideal solutions for the issue you are addressing I would like to say thank you all the same for raising awareness in such a poignant manner.

    2. I know how this feels. I have 4 children, one of them was diagnosed with schizophrenia, then he was diagnosed with anxiety. All this started about ten years ago. His siblings were very traumatised. But I’m happy they were able to move on with their lives. One of his siblings is a graduate and the other two are students in the university. And my boy is making slow but steady healing progress. 

      1. Hi Juliet,

        Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey. I am very happy to hear how well your kids are doing…it’s very encouraging. I wish your family all the best!


    3. This is powerful stuff!

      My family haven’t been touched directly by DS, but we’re friends who have a DS daughter.

      She is their only child, but what you’ve written here does really flag up some vitally important things to think about.

      A Down child will need a lot of care and attention and it may be all to easy for parents, through no real fault of their own, to overlook (not necessarily) neglect a non-DS sibling, or, as you say give them responsibility before they’re ready. 

      On the latter point, I suppose a lot of it depends on how the parents go about it. If the non-DS sibling is involved in an inclusive way and made to feel that the help he or she is giving to the parents is very important to them, and also rewarded for it, then the child not only adapt to the situation quickly and well but will get a genuine feel-good factor out of it.

      The situation doesn’t need to lead to neglect or over-burdening of the non-DS sibling, but it could easily go that way.

      What’s also critical is the local availability of external support for the whole family, whether it be through Health or Social Services, voluntary organizations or self-help groups of people in the same situation. 

      Getting this one right early is so very important.

      1. Hi Richard,

        You raised some really great points here…support for the entire family is so crucial, but unfortunately we lack these social services in far too many countries/cities.

        When it comes to the parents making the sibling feel included when they are children…yes it does help a lot. When I was a child, I was adamant that I would be the one to forever take care of my younger sister. The problem is when I became an adult an encountered all the struggles associated with adulthood…especially the financial ones…that’s when things changed for me…because if I can’t take care of myself and figure out my life and get my life on track…then how can I care for someone else, without it being taxing? 

        As to what parents can do about this issue…just ensure that their other kids get the opportunity to build themselves up and get a solid foundation in life before having to take on the responsibility of caring for their sibling.

        Thanks again Richard for sparking this discussion. Please visit us at HappyDowns again soon.


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