The Arc Maryland, Partners Host First Statewide Sibling Support Forum in Maryland

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Annapolis - Maryland - US

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Jan. 24, 2014 - PRLog -- According to a National Sibling Disability Study conducted in 2012 (Easter Seals), fifty-five percent of respondents who have a sibling with a disability strongly agree that the relationship with their sibling enhances their life compared to thirty-one percent of the general population.  The sibling relationship is the longest relationship in the life of an individual with developmental disabilities.  Each sibling experience is unique and the degree of sibling involvement is on a very broad spectrum including absence to full care-giving responsibilities.

Kate Fialkowski, The Arc Maryland’s Executive Director remarked:  “The parent’s advocacy movement started in the 1960’s with the ‘Right to Education.’ With the de-institutionalization in the 1970’s and 1980’s self advocates grew the movement, speaking for themselves.  In this last decade, as our parents are passing, siblings are now advocating together.”

Over 50 people attended the first statewide sibling forum, entitled “A Sibling Conversation.”  The event was co-hosted by The Arc Maryland, By Their Side and Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council. At this forum, a panel of brothers and sisters of idnho a sibling with a developmental disability discussed their lives as siblings and covered topics including expectations, dealing with conflict, sibling roles and responsibilities, as well as sibling resources and recommendations.  A facilitated forum discussion allowed participants to share their experiences, ideas and to network.  Many sibling experiences resonated such as the complexity of relationships with siblings, the parents’ legacy and learning new roles such as advocate and trustee.

Forums and support networks are the first step in collective advocacy.  To join the Maryland Sibling Support Network, visit The Arc Maryland website at

By Their Side is a non-profit organization funded by families to advocate for their relative with a disability when their parents no longer can.  “If the recent Sibling Panel and Forum discussion is any indication, the new Maryland Sibling Network will offer adults the opportunity to connect over similar experiences and uncertainty, resourcefulness, and depth of caring and commitment…We remain available to assist as needed,” stated By Their Side Executive Director Kathy Vecchioni.

A sibling resource guide for siblings in Maryland is now available.  Brian Cox, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director, stated, “In addition to supporting adult siblings, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council is also exploring ways to help younger siblings of people with developmental disabilities connect and support each other.  Siblings can contact the Council to learn more and get involved in these exciting new endeavors."

About The Arc Maryland:

The Arc Maryland is a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to creating a world where children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have and enjoy equal rights and opportunities.

For more information, contact The Arc Maryland at

By Their Side,

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council,

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The Arc Maryland, Inc.
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Tags:Sibling, Disabilities, Support Network, Statewide Forum
Location:Annapolis - Maryland - United States
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 24, 2014
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