My Sister Alicia May Written by Nancy Tupper Ling
Illustrated by Shennen Bersani
Pleasant St. Press 2009
My friend Leticia sent me this review, which was published on “Catholic Media Review.” This children’s book is about the big sister of a Down syndrome child, Alicia May. It reads in part:
Sister relationships are complex and beautiful things. When one of the sisters has special needs, the relationship may seem one sided; often the focus is on the special sister, and this is a mixed blessing. The typical sister learns to give more of herself and put up with more than most sisters do, growing emotionally beyond her peers, yet there are days when she runs short of patience for her demanding sister. “My Sister Alicia May” describes this unique relationship with a unique blend of candor and tenderness.
Siblings of children with special needs so often have to cope with “big feelings” — and overwhelmed parents, intent on tending to the needs of their “special blessing,” don’t always think about how to address these feelings. This book is a good start to starting that dialogue!
Karen has a twenty-three year old daughter, Amanda, who has special needs. All her life she has worked hard to learn and grow, and to become independent. She wants more than anything to be a nun — but finds that most communities are not open to receiving a special-needs member.
When you read Amanda’s story, I hope you’ll pray with me that Amanda’s steps will be guided to the special community that needs her most.
Today at Mommy Monsters, I write about a “teachable moment” with my daughter, in which we encounter a special needs child at McDonalds.
My sister lost her leg when she was ten due to complications from cancer — I was twelve. Sometimes people could be downright rude, pointing and staring as though she were deaf and blind rather than simply legless. Chris always much preferred the guileless questions of children, even when those questions made the parents squirm. So now when my kids ask Chris if her leg has grown back yet, she just laughs and says, “No yet!” And I remind them that Aunt Chris’ leg is waiting for her in heaven.
When they comment (always loudly and in earshot) about a young woman at church who has Down syndrome, I try to take my cue from Chris and simply answer the question. “Yes, she has special challenges — she doesn’t talk or act quite the same way you do. But she has special gifts, too. See how she’s always helping in the nursery? See how she always seems happy to be here, instead of grumpy? How she’s kind to everyone? I think she would be a great friend, don’t you? One way you can be her friend is by not saying things to her or about her that might hurt her feelings.”
Today at “International Mom” Julie also has a discussion about how to talk to kids about treating people who are physically or mentally challenged. Go take a look!
Pam at International Mom sent me this wonderful story about this remarkable foster mother of three Israeli special needs children. Petra, who often writes under the pen-name Christina Boerma, is a published writer who is originally from Holland. She and her husband of almost 30 years have lived since 1989 in Jerusalem, Israel. Presently she is working on her third historical novel.
“I watched as a mother sitting in a row in front of me put an arm around her daughter. The simple, natural gesture touched me. Bill and I had been married for 11 years, knew we could not have children, and didn’t miss them. Why was I so moved now? Why did “adoption” pop into my mind?
“I thought, OK Lord, if this is from you, Bill must bring up the subject. A few days later, I was flabbergasted when Bill said, ‘If you desire to become a mother, we can either adopt or foster.'”
Confirmations came from different, unexpected sources. For instance, in a Dutch romance (of all places), I read, “The Lord is looking for empty nests, where He can place children that are ‘over’ and ‘too-much’ and are craving for a warm place. Don’t fret, but make the Lord happy by giving one of these children a place in your heart and home.”
To read more of the story entitled “Make God Happy” by Petra van der Zande, click here.
For another inspiring story, check out this post at Patrick Madrid’s blog, about Irena Sendler, a Polish woman (1910-2008) who saved more than 2500 children in the Polish ghettos of Warsaw during World War II.