Welcome to the blog called “Plato’s Sister”. The purpose of this blog is to reach out to the adult siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities, build a community where readers can share their hopes and dreams, provide a place to express challenges and concerns facing our siblings, and share information that can help foster transitions from parental care to adult sibling care. We also want to celebrate and discuss the memories that established special sibling bonds and discuss the next steps /new roles in the relationship as caregiver, guardian, and/or advocate with/for our siblings with developmental disabilities.
First of all, I would like to explain why I chose “Plato’s Sister” as the name for the blog. My older brother, Plato, was diagnosed with “classic autism” at the age of four from the T.E.A.C.H. program in North Carolina. We moved from North Carolina to a small town in Alabama when he was seven years old. No one in this town had ever heard of autism and his behavior quickly made him the center of attention from teachers and student at the elementary school we attended. (Now, let me state that this was 40 plus years ago and a lot of people had no idea what “Autism” was or how to treat it, not just this small town.) So, when I started school one year behind him I was immediately called “Plato’s Sister” and that was my name through elementary and middle school. Very few people, outside of my classmates and close friends, even knew my name.
At the age of six, I had to answer questions from adults and students about why Plato behaved the way he did. I also had to help members of the community understand autism better. My brother told me once that, ”Having autism was like being an alien on a strange planet and that whenever you tried to understand the people on this planet it hurt and you had to run back to your on world.” So, this was my answer to question I was often asked. As a child I hated the label, “ Plato’s Sister” and all the questions that followed. However, as I got older and wiser, I first learned to accept it and now I look back on those times with loving memories.
My life was shaped because of my brother Plato and having him in my life made me a better person. I feel my patience, sense of humor, ability to understand, and my determination was gained from living with a sibling with a developmental disability. My brother Plato also influenced my view that everyone can learn and has something to offer. When you love someone with a developmental disability your world slows down and you learn to appreciate the small things in life. You gain a perspective that is priceless and that a person is so much more than what you see and hear on the exterior. I am reminded of the words from President Theodore Roosevelt that stated,” For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the privileged will never know.”
I want all the adult siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities that read this blog to share their experiences, give us ideas for topics, and help us advocate for our brothers and sisters. I want the format of this blog to open with a memory of a situation we faced, followed with how we handled it or should have handle it, and conclude with helpful information. If you have any advice, memories, or questions please feel free to share them on this blog and we will try to help you find the answers, laugh or cry from your memories, and/or celebrate your battles won on the behalf of your sibling.