To the siblings who sometimes feel invisible...I see you.
To the ones who have celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving in the hospital instead of around your dining room table...I see you.
To the kids who get shuffled from one family member to the next during hospitalizations...I see you.
To the children who trade video games at sleepovers for blown up medical gloves during hospital visits...I see you.
To the students whose parents have missed games, performances, concerts, and school presentations...I see you.
To the kids who turn speech and physical therapy into fun games…I see you.
To those who have blown out birthday candles in hospital playrooms...I see you.
To the kids who share their houses with nurses and therapists...I see you.
To the students who have been picked up unexpectedly from school, only to find out your sibling has been taken to the hospital again…I see you.
To the children who had to grow up too fast and have way too much medical knowledge...I see you.
To the doctors-in-training who can give tube feeds, suction trachs, silence ventilators, and clean hearing aids...I see you.
To the kids whose world gets turned upside down by a medical emergency, yet you are expected to keep it together and be well-behaved…I see you.
To those who must worry about how long you will have your siblings, and wonder what life would be like without them...I see you.
I see you having a compassion that others your age just don't have. I see you unabashedly loving your siblings and being their fierce protectors. I see you trying to change the world's perception of special needs kids by reminding people not the use the r-word. I see you playing with your siblings and accepting them just as they are. I see you growing up to be therapists, doctors, nurses, and special education teachers, because you have seen first-hand the difference these people have played in your sibling's life. I see you taking on the role of caretaker as adults when your parents no longer can. I see you being thankful for the small things in life, because you understand that those are really the big things.
To Caleb, Ryan, Kennedy, Anderson, Sara, Jade, Peyton, Nate, and so many others who have sacrificed so much over the years...I see you.
So to the siblings of kids with special needs, THANK YOU for all you have given up so that your brother or sister can get the best care possible. We couldn't do it without you. You are loved!