15 Things Having a Sibling with a Learning Disability Has Taught Me

11th March 2015
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1. If there is any option over colour then pink is the only one you should consider. Ideally, pink and glittery. In fact, everything should be pink and glittery, full stop.

2.  Chocolate is good. If something has chocolate on it or in it, then it must be good. Chocolate ice cream is even better. Sweets however, are not great – why have sweets when you could have chocolate?

3.  You don’t have to live life at 100mph. It’s okay to walk at a slower pace – you see more of the world that way. It’s okay to take time to talk, instead of rushing conversations, you listen better that way.

4.  There is something magical about dancing. Dancing makes people happy. You can dance wherever and whenever you like. If there isn’t any music, then sing but just make sure you dance with no inhibitions. Who cares what you look like? If there is someone with you, make them dance too.

5.  Music is brilliant. If you listen to enough of it, you’ll know what the song is as soon as the first notes are played. You’ll also know all of the words and be able to sing along…and dance.

6.  Hugs are medicinal. Everyone should have plenty of hugs as part of their daily routine. Proper bear hugs which squeeze happiness into your body.

7.  When you see someone you know, squeal their name, smile and give them a big hug. Act as if you haven’t seen them in ages, even if it has just been a day.

8.  Reading is an escape route. You can read about so many different adventures. Reading opens up the world, you can learn about anything by reading about it and reciting it to anyone who will listen. The best time to read is late at night when you ought to be going to sleep. Don’t let that stop you though, illicit reading when your parents have told you to turn your light out is the best kind of reading.

9.  Routine is paramount, whoever thinks that it isn’t hasn’t seen the world through the eyes of a child with DS. Everyone should know that when you come in from school, you get changed then have a sausage roll and a piece of fruit. Regardless of whether your sister is offering freshly baked cake that smells delicious (but you are allowed to comment on it smelling good).

10.  If you find it funny, laugh. It doesn’t matter what people think, laugh big hearty laughs that can be heard a mile away. It is good for your health. Oh, and on that note, tell jokes until you are blue in the face. Knock knock jokes are the best but that goes without saying.

11. The art of compassion is sacred. You can tell how people really feel by looking in their eyes, ask if they are okay and really mean it. Listen to the response properly….and then give them a big hug anyway.

12.  Blending words can sometimes be a really great way to express yourself. For example if something is beautiful and pretty – it is prettiful. Kind of obvious really!

13,  Having an imaginary friend means there is always someone there to talk life through with. They remind you to turn the light out when leaving a room and help you remember what to pack in your school bag. Have you tried talking to your imaginary friend recently? You never know how useful they could be nowadays!

14.  Life is exciting, everything can be an adventure if you choose to see it that way.

Most importantly…

15.  When something feels unachievable to you, or people are saying you can’t do it, don’t let that stop you – you can, will, achieve whatever you put your mind to. Another great feeling? Proving people’s preconceptions wrong.

I first wrote “Things Alice has taught me” in 2012 for World Down’s Syndrome Day and published it on my Marathon running blog.

  1. This post has really brightened up my day it’s absolutely lovely. I also have a sister with learning disabilities and I’ve been wanting to write a post about it for a while but haven’t known where to start really. I don’t think I could beat this one but I’m definitely going to give one a go :)

    Amy x

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Amy! :) Glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you do write about it and please let me know the link when you do! x

  2. Who doesn’t like a hug, chocolate and dancing , but maybe next time I dance I will try and mean it a little more. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. This is a brilliant list for us all to live richer more meaningful lives. We often get caught up in the day-to-day stressors and forget to stop and spend time enjoying life. Often the small things make the biggest difference. What great lessons and observations you have come away with from your sister. Things we all need to be reminded of (well maybe not the chocolate, as I am more a vanilla person), to be more conscious of every day in our own lives. Life is about living…about finding what matters to us most and then making sure to fill our lives with those things. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post and for reminding us to stop and experience our lives to the max.

  4. It must be universal because every family who has a sibling with learning disabilities sees life in a grander, more poignant way. It provides a simple perspective as a guide to what really matters. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a beautiful touching way to look at life, it’s certainly given me a smile! My 80+ year old uncle died 3 years ago and had learning disabilities but so many of your thoughts I can relate to (except the pink glittery, he was a stuffed toy fan!!)

  6. I have not had such life experiences, Beckie, but I cannot agree more with your lessons! There’s so much for all of us to learn from them. I particularly agree with the comment about the pink color and glittery quality. Oh, and also the chocolate advice, you can never go wrong with chocolate.

    Thanks for sharing with us in such an inspiring and fun way!

    1. Delia, thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog post. So appreciate your thoughts – you’re right about the chocolate!

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