Superhero Siblings

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

Superhero Siblings

When my son became a big brother at age six, he also became so much more.

He instantly transformed into a protector, a doting role model, an empathetic helper, and the best buddy to his baby sister.

He has stood proud in these roles from the very beginning.

When our tiny, four-pound miracle girl came into the world, little did we know that her brother would also become a hero.

We had no clue as to the lessons he’d be forced to learn, at a very young age. As a sibling to his sister with complex medical needs and disabilities, he has carried a lot on his shoulders over the past 12 years.

He has timed innumerable seizures and called 9-1-1.

During a recent, very scary grand mal seizure, I heard him calmly relate to a dispatcher that we had been waiting on an ambulance for twenty minutes and his sister needed help, immediately.

He knows to open the door and step outside to flag down an ambulance as it drives up. A child shouldn’t have to know such a burden as that.

He has felt a sense of crushing worry that a sibling should never have to feel.

He has become a pro at securing his sister’s wheelchair into our van. He unhooks the latches and jumps out to let her ramp down whenever we park, without being asked.

When she shakes her head “no” and refuses to take her medicine for me, he willingly steps in and easily administers it, without any questions. It’s all second nature to him.

When she’s sick and running a fever, he will pop into the room repeatedly to check on her.

Every day when she gets home from school, he instinctively asks how her day was and he promptly puts on her favorite TV show.

My son has tagged along to countless therapies and specialist appointments. Offering to lend a hand to carry things and hold doors open for me, he NEVER complains about it.

He’s missed out on planned outings due to her being ill and he’s made sacrifices that most siblings couldn’t imagine.

When he was 11, he once told me that he would take care of his sister when I became too old.

That was a defining moment I’ll never forget; my heart felt as if it exploded with his profound statement.

I also worry about him too, and I wish for his life to be fulfilling and happy.

He’s eighteen now and has his own agenda, but I know that he will always make sure that his sister is well cared for.

Even though he’s older, and they don’t read books together or play together quite as much these days, the bond between them is still obvious.

He makes me prouder than he’ll ever comprehend.

Siblings like him, who walk in these similar shoes, are so very strong and resilient.

In my eyes, he’s a Superhero. I’m pretty sure his sister sees him that way too.


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