Posted by: Susan | December 7, 2012

Siblings of children with Down syndrome…will they turn out OK?

Sometimes as a parent with a child/children with Down syndrome you wonder how their siblings will turn out.  You try to spend equal amounts of times with each of your children but when you are taking a child for physical therapy, speech therapy and who knows what other doctor’s appointments the sibling(s) get short-changed.  You even have to drag the other kids with you because let’s face it, it’s hard to get a babysitter every time you need to go to another appointment.  April had 3 older siblings that got to see a lot of therapies and the inside of places these were performed, whether in a hospital or university setting.

Fast forward 24 years to December 2, 2012.  The Hunk and I, plus April, Jake and Sam, attended the DSAGC Holiday party at the Oasis Conference Center.  This party is for families that have a child with Down syndrome, their friends and families.  The festivities begin with crafts, Santa(accompanied by Mrs. Santa), gifts and here is the best part…a delicious buffet.  Let me add now that a wonderful person, Kerin Caudill at the DSAGC, made sure there was gluten free food served for my boys.IMG_5262April and Jake making a holiday decoartion.IMG_5271Sam having a heart to heart with Mrs. Claus.IMG_5272Hanging out with friends over lunch and a laugh.

At the end of the meal for over 500 people there were speakers.  It was time to recognize people who had made a difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome.  Kathleen was the first speaker and read a very touching letter about the difference  a speech pathologist had made in the life of her daughter.  How she taught her sign language and engaged her in play therapy and how when the mom thought her daughter wouldn’t talk this therapist coaxed actual words out of her.  Kathleen cried as she read the letter.  You parents know how that is when someone changes the life of our child.  When your child is able to say ‘mom’ for the first time.IMG_5279

 I was right there too with tears in my eyes as Kathleen read her letter.  I know the back story of this speech pathologist.  How she went with her little sister to speech therapy week after week.  How she helped her mom with her little sister and how she insisted that her little sister share her room.  Not only was I an observer at the holiday party but I was also a very proud parent.IMG_5281That speech pathologist that made a difference is our daughter Jen Bekins.  And yes, I cried again when she gave her acceptance speech.

IMG_5291Who knew on that dismal day when we got the diagnosis of Down syndrome for April, how the synergy between these 2 sisters would make such a difference in the lives of so many, many others.  So what do you do after such an emotional high of watching your oldest child get an award?  You dance and I know just the 2 guys to get things started.IMG_5292After the Meyers’ boys took to the floor the party really started to get crazy.IMG_5294IMG_5297I am not some professional guru who gives  advice about how to raise your children.  I just know that my 3 older kids are better adults because of their 3 younger siblings with Down syndrome. I also know that my 3 children with Down syndrome have learned so much from their older siblings.  Moms, you will be stretched thin trying to do the best to meet the needs of all your children.  I just helped the child that needed me the most, at that specific time, whether it was taking them to therapy, taking them to soccer practice, talking over a broken heart or helping them decide which college to attend.  Day by day, challenge by challenge, you raise all your children together.  They learn from you and each other and in the end it all seems to work out.



  1. Being a sibling of a younger sister with Down syndrome I can safely say that I survived it all when Kathleen was younger, and wouldn’t trade in a day of it for anything! Kathleen is the glue that binds our already tight family. Great blog!

  2. Amen, I know Alex’s siblings are different than their peers – I have been hearing it from their teachers since they are three! thanks for reminding me!

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