Just this evening, Hector and I had a great opportunity to attend a Sibling Workshop led by two experts in the field of sibling relationships in families with special needs. Dr. Brian Skotko and Sue Levine led the workshop and I feel so lucky that DSIA flew them out to Sacramento to speak with a small group of us. Diego was able to attend the breakout session for children ages 5-8 and then childcare was provided while Hector and I attended the parent session.
It was so informative and Diego also really enjoyed having his session with some peers experiencing the same thing he is. I think Sue validated the kids feelings no matter what they were and helped them to process having a sibling with DS. The kids expressed their feelings and also shared advice to their parents. It was really eye opening to see the things they said on their brainstorming papers. Things like "Pay attention to us too" and "Let the baby rest sometimes" and "Be fair" and "Have a baby with DS". This last one Sue and Brian mentioned is really interesting. They have collectively been doing this type of thing for 35 years and they said in the last 5 years more and more often kids (and really young ones) are talking about prenatal decisions and choices. So when the kids said "Have a baby with DS", they meant that they feel babies with DS are wonderful and they want them in their lives. Interesting!
One of the best tidbits of the night was a tip on how to explain how or why an extra chromosome can make such a difference in people. Sue mentioned this "recipe" was one way a mom in one of her previous sessions explains it so that even young kids can understand....
Chromosomes are ingredients that make us who we are and it's like the ingredients in a cake. All cakes are made with flour, sugar, eggs, some vanilla and some oil in our cake batter and we bake it in the oven and out comes a yummy, delicious cake. Having an extra chromosome is like adding in an extra egg or maybe a little extra oil. You still get a yummy, delicious cake but this cake might be a little softer, spongier or stickier but it's still a yummy delicious cake.
I thought this was a GREAT way to explain it...not to mention it kicked in my sweet tooth!
Thank you Sue and Dan for an awesome afternoon and thank you DSIA for hosting them.