This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Circles of Life conference and spent two days listening to speakers on a variety of topics from financial planning to advocacy for children with different needs. Overall, it was a really good conference, although I'll admit it was a bit difficult to be there and fully embrace the fact that I have a child with special needs. (That was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to attend.) I would have been much more comfortable attending to represent the non-profit service organization that is my employer, but my job was to be there as Teddy's mom.
I met some wonderful people, saw some amazingly cute kiddos and heard some pretty awesome stories. The final session included a guest panel of typical siblings who attended the conference with their families. These teenagers shared their thoughts on a few topics, including the hardest part of having a sibling with special needs:
- The stares. It's don't like it when other people make fun of my brother for who he is.
- It's hard not to have a sibling who understands you and who relates to you.
- I understand it's not favoritism, but it's hard when my sister needs all my parents' attention.
- It makes me more understanding of others. I've learned not to judge other people because of how they look or act. I have more patience with people. I'm more accepting of other people. I'm a better person.