A chance to feel like any other kid

11-year-old Bethany felt like the twin who always had to make sacrifices.

Bethany knew she was loved, but could also see that her parents were over-loaded with the responsibilities of caring for her brother, Jason.

Jason has autism. Because she is his twin, Bethany felt like she always had to do the same things as him, which was becoming harder and harder as they got older. He seemed to get more than his fair share of their parents’ time, and none of her friends could come to visit, or understand what her life was like.

Life throws us all challenges, but being the brother or sister of a young person with a disability has its own added pressures.

Many share responsibilities for caring for a sibling or helping more around the home, some are bullied or excluded at school, and most carry the guilt that can come from feeling they have it easier than their siblings.

It can be extremely isolating.

That’s why Bethany was excited to discover SIBZ: a MacKillop program giving young people who have siblings with a disability the chance to feel like any other kid.

It’s a rare opportunity to build friendships with others who share similar experiences in a safe space. As Bethany says,

“SIBZ helps because there’s always someone to talk to who understands what I’m going through.”

She drew this picture to represent the role SIBZ has in her life.

Bethany says:

“The rose represents SIBZ, while the messy, chaotic background represents my problems and sometimes life. SIBZ is one of the lights in my life that helps me cope with life and the glow around the rose represents that, as the rose is so powerful that the chaotic background can’t get to it.”

It’s a relief not to feel guilty sharing the negative feelings she can sometimes have towards Jason, even though she loves him. And it’s fun to be able to do things she can’t do with her brother, like going to a concert that she enjoyed with her SIBZ friends.

Bethany has made new friends, who she can invite over to her home without fear of embarrassing them or her brother. And the freedom to explore her own interests has helped her discover her creative side, including writing her own novels.

One of fourteen young people in MacKillop’s Senior SIBZ program, Bethany is lobbying to increase their activities from one evening per term to two, in addition to their holiday ac­tivity. However, MacKillop needs your support to offer this program at all.

Please, donate today so young people like Bethany can find the support and freedom they need to be able to thrive alongside a sibling with a disability.

*Names changed to protect the privacy of our clients. Artwork shared with the young person’s permission.
** SIBZ is one of a range of MacKillop Family Services' programs supporting young people through challenging family situations. 

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