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Lastest SibNews is here!

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Jan-Feb-Mar 2017 SibNewsThe January-February-March issue of SibNews is now available online.

We’re very excited to bring you the second issue of our new SibNews newsletter.  This one features WisconSib Anna Benz sharing her experience as a WisconSibs intern.  Plus a recipe from WisconSib Ainsley Thornton, The Calendar of upcoming events, and much more.

See SibNews online.

To request a paper copy, email us.

CORRECTION NOTE: The H.U.L.K. Sibshop on March 4, 2017 will be held from 9:00 am – noon, not 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Preparing for the Holidays When You Have a Sibling with Disabilities

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20161203_santas-workshop1For children and adults who have a sibling with disabilities, preparing for the holidays isn’t just a matter of buying and wrapping presents, making cookies, and decorating the house.  No matter how much you look forward to the holidays and all the activities, you’ll probably find them more relaxing and fun with a bit of preparation.  Here’s a few ideas:

  • Make sure your sibling can find something familiar to eat at holiday meals.  If you are a child, talk with your parents about what food or drink it will be. Then help get it ready to add to the meal. No one likes to feel left out at mealtime and bringing a food your sibling enjoys can make a big difference.
  • Are you unsure what your family schedule will be during the holidays? Not knowing what’s going on can make you feel anxious. Get some paper and markers and ask parents to write down the days and activities, or write it down as they tell you all about it. Dec 24 – Drive to Grandpa’s. Dec 25 – Open presents in morning. Dinner with Aunt Sue. Etc. Post it on the wall or fridge. Realize that schedules during the holidays may be updated depending on weather, traffic, and the schedules of other family members or friends.
  • Be prepared to see family members that may not know much about your sibling’s disability.  If you have a book or notes that explains the disability, review it, or even have it handy to share with your family members. (Kids, don’t hesitate to tell your parents if you are concerned about a question or comment that a family member makes. Ask your parents to help you come up with ideas for helping your family member better understand.)
  • If you travel, make sure you and your sibling each bring along a favorite toy or pasttime to help make the trip not feel so long. This item may also help fill time or if you need a little time away from your sibling or all the commotion of the holiday activities. Whether adult or child, a coloring book and pencils can reduce the stress of airport lines, waiting for Santa, or passing time in the car.
  • Have a favorite game handy to play with family members or friends.  The holidays make a great time to find a willing playmate that isn’t always available at other times.

What do you do to prepare for the holidays?


Thank you volunteers for being wonderful Santa Helpers!

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santa-celebration-2016-21Santa relies on lots of helpers to bring joy and happiness to the children attending Santa Celebration each year and the volunteers at our event last Saturday really made him proud.

Thank you to the volunteers, including students from Appleton West High School, Freedom High School, Appleton North Key Club, Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Lawrence University, several therapy dogs from the Humane Society, The Learning Shop, Lanari Photography, the Down Syndrome Association of WI Fox Valley, Appleton Rotary, and many, many more.  Click here for a special message to you.

We also thank the Appleton Downtown Rotary and Fleet Farm for their generous support. Thank you to the hospitality of the staff at The Grand Meridian, the wonderful display by The Learning Shop and our friends at The Building for Kids for their help.

More photos from Santa Celebration 2016

Siblings Worry about Unemployment Rates of People with Disabilities

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Siblings want the best for their sisters or brothers with disabilities.  That doesn’t mean they want the best to just be handed to them.  They expect their siblings with disabilities to work, just like they do.  It is a major concern for siblings and they have every reason to be concerned.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 11.3 percent in  August 2016 compared to the unemployment rate of the population without disabilities of just 4.9 percent.

I’m pleased that WisconSibs and an awesome number of other local agencies and businesses are partnering on September 22 to hold a public meeting at Miron Corporation (Neenah) to discuss the barriers to employment for youth with disabilities.  As a community, we’ll learn how we can help one another eliminate the barriers and in the process not only make a difference in that unemployment rate, but find a gold mind of talent and energy that can help our communities in Wisconsin grow. Plus it is FREE and you get dinner!!

Siblings – Check this out and register for the free event!  Employing Youth with Barriers Flyer

Employment for Youth with Barriers Flyer

Siblings Growing Up with Autism

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Harriet with family I recently was asked to contribute an article for the Organization for Autism Research newsletter.  Here’s a glimpse:

Taking Care of Siblings Growing Up with Autism

by Harriet Redman, M.S. Ed.

When you have a child with autism or other developmental disability, it’s easy to feel you don’t have a free moment. Between your child’s medical appointments, IEPs, household tasks, therapy, community activities, and work, your days are full. Not only that, but when you are witnessing worrisome or extreme behaviors or emotions in your child with an autism diagnosis, it is often hard to notice siblings. So it is understandable you may overlook, even dismiss, signs of concern showing in your children who don’t have an autism diagnosis, but are growing up with it.


As with all sibling relationships, there are positives and negatives to having a sibling with autism.  MORE

Link to the OAR August Newsletter


Posted on by wisibs
AutismTeenCoverIDEA 1Get Life as an autism sibling: a guide for teens.  Even if your sibling has a different diagnosis, this 6-page booklet is packed with great ideas from other teen siblings.
Download by clicking here.
Teen Sib Leadership 2015IDEA 2 – Apply for the Teen Sib Leadership Award (or sign up for Teen Sib Leadership Day if you a previous award winner).  This award is given to teen siblings (ages 13-17) that seek to be better leaders and have a heart for helping others. NOTE: Deadline extended to May 15.
Sib Camp August 2015IDEA 3 – Have fun at Sib Camp (ages 9-16) or  Teen Sibling Leadership Camp (ages 14 and older). Camping+hiking+ swimming+paddling+kayaking+lots more adventures+other kids who have siblings with disabilities=fun and friendships.
Download Teen Sib Leadership Camp information and enrollment form  Note: Deadline extended to June 1. $200 Campership available OR
Register Now!
SIBTEEN LOGO 150X55IDEA 4 – Join SibTeen.  SibTeen is a “closed” Facebook group.  This means that others can see that you belong to SibTeen, but they can’t see what you’ve posted.  Only other SibTeen members can see what you’ve posted to SibTeen. More information


SUMMER CAMPS FOR people with disabilities and for siblings!

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The weather in Appleton Wisconsin was absolutely gorgeous this weekend…something as Wisconsinites we dream about to get us through the months of winter blasts of cold and snow.  So while I’ve been getting camps organized for the siblings who participate with WisconSibs Sib Camps since January, this weather also prompted me to finish Phillip’s (my son with disabilities) camp schedule.1620594_285969371590635_7038379701286800850_n

If you are looking for camps for your child or adult with disabilities OR their siblings, check out this website for camps in Wisconsin.  http://www.veryspecialcamps.com/Wisconsin/Special-Needs-Summer-Camps.shtml


10561631_286737211513851_5478398368456877118_nYou live outside Wisconsin or looking for a camp for a particular condition or disability? Go to http://www.veryspecialcamps.com/

Kids (and even adults) gain so many benefits from time away in the outdoors.  They learn new skills, breathe fresh air, discover the wonders of outdoors, and meet people they may never have met otherwise.   And parents, admit it, you could use the respite.