Book of the Week – Thicker Than Water - Essays by Adult Siblings of People With Disabilities, edited by Don Meyer
By Jennifer Griffin: Periodically in my work here at Alpha, I’ll receive a call from a parent of a child with a disability wanting support or resources for their other child/children who don’t have disabilities. Siblings of people with disabilities experience a great range of emotions – anger, jealousy, overprotectiveness, etc. Thicker than Water is a glimpse into their lives through some very frank and eye opening essays. The 39 adult sibling writers reflect on how their lives have been indelibly shaped by their relationship with a brother or sister with special needs. In one essay, John Kramer says “There’s much talk among professionals interested in sibling support regarding how typically developing sibs sometimes feel ‘left out’ of aspects of family life and parents’ attention because of the needs of their brothers and sisters. While that may be true, few of us consider whether or not people with disabilities want things that way. My guess is that if they had their way, most people with disabilities would rather not be the suns in their families’ solar systems…And it makes me wonder: if sibs without disabilities complain about a lack of parental attention, do people with disabilities complain about too much attention?” Such a unique perspective that could only come from a sibling. It’s no surprise that Kramer is now a Ph.D. candidate in Disability Studies and a founding member of the Sibling Leadership Network.
Another essay, whose author preferred to remain anonymous, explores a much darker side of the sibling experience. In the article the woman writes about the daily abuse she received at the hands of her brother and the lack of protection she received from her parents. Her brother’s attacks had to be forgiven as he “couldn’t help” the violence because he “didn’t understand”. As a young adult, suffering PTSD originating from the attacks, she was still the one who made sure the arrangements for his residential placement were completed before her last surviving parent passed away. Thicker Than Water gives voice to those who often aren’t heard from enough when a family is raising a child with special needs. However, in the end, they are often the ones left to make the important decisions.
You can find Thicker Than Water and hundreds of other great disability related books at the two Alpha Resource Connections Libraries locations. The South County library is housed in the Tri-Counties Regional Center building at 520 E. Montecito St. and the North County library is located at 1234 Fairway Dr, Suite A in Santa Maria. If you’d like to check out any of the items featured or look through the many other items at either library, contact Jennifer Griffin at (805) 683-2145 or email@example.com for library hours. Can’t get to the libraries? We can bring books to your home or office! Contact Jennifer to arrange a convenient time for you.