My earliest memory of my brother is scooting up and down the children’s ward in a toy car at St James’ hospital in Leeds. Although I was almost 3 when he was born, I think I knew even then that he was poorly and somehow ‘different’ to other people’s siblings.
Growing up with my brother as my only sibling, I didn’t really know much different! We have lots of fond memories visiting the park, zoos and lots of family time with cousins. Christmas time is always special in our household and I used to love how I could open my brother’s presents for him because he was unable to due to poor motor skills!
I would be lying if I said that it has been plan sailing having a sibling with a learning disability – it isn’t. There are times where you want to cry, shout and say ‘why me?!’ especially when you are the only other sibling. There have been events in my life where the only other person who is experiencing it is my brother and I wish that I could speak to him about these things – but I cannot. There are also the feelings of guilt, worry and constantly wondering ‘I wonder what he is really thinking or understands’.
Moving out of my home was a bit of a relief for me – I had much more time to myself where I could do more of what I wanted to do, rather than basing a lot of my life around my brother’s needs. He now lives in supported living very local to where we were brought up and has family members visit at least 4 days a week, as well as going to a college for adults with a learning disability.
I now work as a Community Connector which means that I organize and host social events, workshops and parties for adults who have a learning disability. It is an amazing job and I thank my brother for moulding me into the caring person that I am today. I always wonder if my personality would have been different if it wasn’t for having my brother in my life.
The advice that I would like to give to others is remember that your sibling has probably moulded you into the person you are. Your caring qualities, empathy and patience will be subconsciously from dealing with your sibling. We are a strong group of people who deserve ‘me time’ and to be able to talk to others in the same boat about the joys and stresses of having a sibling with a learning disability. I thank my brother for making me who I am and I thank others like you and this charity for helping me to feel included.