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Program Helps Support Siblings of Special Needs Children


January 25, 2014

Siblings ranging from eight to 15-years-old made their way out to the Carver Rec Center in Charlottesville for a day-long support program put on by the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department and the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA).

“We spend a lot of time focusing services on the individual with the disability and we spend a lot of time training parents on how to interact and how to teach their children, but often the siblings get left out of the mix,” says Emily Callahan from VIA.

That’s what the support program is so important. During the program siblings got a chance to talk about how they were feeling with the help a few role play sessions.

“What are some issues or problems that come up with having a sibling with a disability and what are the strengths of their relationship with their siblings?” says Sarah Blech, Manager of Therapeutic Programs for parks and rec.

They were also asked questions like what activities they liked doing with their sibling and what they can do to help support their family when things get tough. But overall they learned that they were not alone.

“I'm not the only person that has to go through the things that I go through,” says Sammy Betker. She has an older sister with a disability.

Maggie Morris has two brothers who have been diagnosed with autism autism. Coming to a program like this allows them to meet other people who understand their struggles at home.

“I've been learning some new tips about how when they freak out, how to keep them under control and some good ideas to hang out with them that don't cause stress,” says Morris. “It's a great opportunity for kids who share their feelings about brothers and sisters who have disabilities and get to know people who have the same problems.”

For more information on the Charlottesville Parks & Recreation Therapeutics or VIA click on the links under the photo.


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