Sunday, April 24, 2016


One of the first discussion points for us after Teddy's diagnosis was centered on AJ and what Teddy's diagnosis meant for him. It was easy to immediately jump to thoughts of guilt and worry that AJ wouldn't have a typical brother and that meant he would miss out on so much and shoulder responsibility that he shouldn't have to. Even during those first conversations, I tried to look for the positives of how Teddy's diagnosis would affect AJ.

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.
These teens confirmed every worst fear I have for AJ and Teddy. But they also reaffirmed my hope and belief that AJ will be a better person because Teddy is his brother. When asked about the best part of having a sibling with special needs, the answer was similar from everyone:
  •  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.
I also heard in their answers how fiercely protective they are of their siblings. Sure, they may not always like having a sibling with special needs, but they would be the first to stand up for them or their rights. These children were amazing, just like AJ will be.


  1. Kerry and Dave, AJ is so fortunate to have the two of you as parents. Know that he sees the love you have for Teddy and it is being embedded into his little heart. He sees you exhaust yourselves advocating for Teddy and as small as he is ... he is learning from this. Teddy may not speak verbally, but watching the two of them interact together I know their hearts carry on conversations we can not understand. AJ is going to do fine because he knows and sees true love and what is truly important! He may not know it now but all of these things are teaching him how to be an amazing person!

  2. I agree completely. He will be a better person because Teddy is his brother, just as Teddy is lucky to have AJ as his big brother and wrestling partner.