Sibling Support

Sisters Niamh and Zara Campbell help bring the Sibshops program to SARRC
By Niamh Campbell

My sister Zara and I are proud to have advocated for bringing Sibshops to SARRC in 2020. I am currently a freshman in high school, and Zara is in sixth grade. Our younger brother, Euan, is 9 years old and was diagnosed with autism four years ago. As siblings to a brother with autism, Zara and I are constantly finding our place and adjusting to everything that happens to Euan. 

In February 2018, Zara and I attended a Sibshops workshop, and we really enjoyed the experience. During the session, there were a lot of games and activities, but also some time for meaningful conversations about life as a sibling of someone with autism or other challenges. That experience changed us; we realized we weren’t alone — there were other kids out there who were going through similar experiences, and who, like us, wanted to feel “connected.” 

Last year, I completed a 10-minute original speech on a topic of my choice for my school’s Speech and Debate team. While brainstorming topics, our experience at Sibshops came up. Not only did this become the focus of my speech, it led Zara and me to recall what Sibshops had meant to us, and it got us thinking about creating our own sibling support group. Given what SARRC has done for Euan and our family, we asked SARRC to help make our idea become a reality.

From Euan’s time in SARRC’s Comprehensive Behavior Program, we know that SARRC seeks to help not only the person with autism, but also the entire family. A family is a group of people who love and care for each other, and stick together and support one another during all of the ups and downs. For a lot of siblings, we spend so much time and energy supporting our siblings with autism that we forget to, or choose not to, share how we are feeling or ask for support when we need it.

Having a space, such as SARRC’s Sibshops, will allow siblings to come together, connect and support one another.  Zara and I benefited so much from the program, and we want to share that with others. While there are certainly challenges that come with being a sibling of someone with autism, there are so many benefits. Sibshops helped us discover those benefits, provided a safe environment to talk about the challenges, and made us feel like we were supported. 

Sibshops

The Sibshops model provides an avenue for siblings to form a community and share experiences that could lead to a positive impact. Sibshops are events where participants will meet other sibs, have fun, laugh, talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sib with special needs, play some great games, learn about the services their brothers and sister receive and have some more fun. 

  • Sibshops is offered to participants ages 7-13
  • Sessions are currently taking place online in a virtual format using Zoom technology
  • View upcoming sessions at autismcenter.org/upcoming-events