When:
September 5, 2024 all-day
2024-09-05T00:00:00-04:00
2024-09-06T00:00:00-04:00

Disability Sibling Support in MassachusettsVirtual Event, the first Thusday of each month, 2024, with UMass Chan Medical School | Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, Worcester, MA. Free. For parents & caregivers, regardless of the age of the children. This includes all adults in a caregiving role, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.
* Also includes siblings between the ages of 6–18 that are able to engage appropriately and independently in a group setting.
* The child with challenging behaviors is not eligible to participate; this program is designed to support the family members of that child.
Parents/caregivers can participate if siblings do not, and vice versa.
What is the program about? For Siblings it is an opportunity to meet peers that understand what it’s like to have a brother/sister with behavioral issues, express their feelings and process their experiences in a safe setting, and learn coping strategies.
* Parents & caregivers join an information session on how to decrease trauma and increase resiliency among siblings. We discuss the experience of siblings, strategies for parents to best support siblings, information on why it is important to support siblings, and resources for the family. Once caregivers have attended the first session, they are invited to join a follow-up discussion group offered on subsequent Thursdays.
* Can parents/caregivers join the sibling group? Can siblings join the parent/caregiver group? The short answer is no. Siblings and caregivers meet separately. We have created a safe space for siblings where they can speak freely and don’t need to worry about censoring themselves because parents are listening. And the same is true for parents—they also benefit from a private Zoom group where they don’t feel inhibited when speaking or worry they might say something that the sibling could misinterpret.
Are siblings grouped by age? Yes, they place siblings in age-appropriate groups. Young siblings are grouped together and teen siblings have their own group.
How do I encourage siblings to participate in the sibling group? Avoid using the phrase “support group” because that can feel intimidating. Instead, explain that they understand how growing up with a brother/sister with behavioral issues impacts the whole family. Our job is to make sure that family members are doing okay, so we ask all caregivers and siblings to participate.
Siblings can attend just one time to see what it’s like.
Siblings do not have to share information unless they want to. It’s okay to just listen.
Other siblings have been ambivalent about attending the group and afterwards said they were very glad they participated.
Can siblings participate if they have behavioral challenges themselves? This sibling group is for siblings to have a safe place where they are not faced with behavioral issues from other children. So, if the sibling isn’t able to listen to others, take turns talking, participate appropriately in conversations, or sit for the hour-long group, the answer is no. In those cases, it won’t be a positive experience for that sibling or others in the group.
Where is the program held? This is a remote, online program offered on Zoom. Parents can be together or not on one device. If there are multiple siblings in the family, we encourage them to be on separate devices if possible.
TIMES:
* The sibling group is 5:30pm – 6:30pm EST.
* The parent/caregiver group is 5:30pm – 7pm EST
* Follow-up parent discussion group is 5:30pm – 6:30pm EST
Do I have to commit to participating every month? Parents, caregivers and siblings can participate one time or as often as you like. Families must sign up each month they want to participate, since there is a limited number of spots.
* Pre-registration is required to (857) 523-1145 or email emily.rubin@umassmed.edu. After signing an online consent form, you will receive an email with instructions to log into Zoom. 

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