By Jack Luzadder, Guest Blogger & Sibling
Sympathy is almost always the feeling people express when they find out you have a sibling with a disability. Oftentimes they’ll try to relate by giving a hardship they faced while growing up. While the good intentions are there, the relatability falls flat. There’s too much negative connotation. Growing up with a sibling that has a disability has its challenges, but a large majority overlook the overwhelming positives that come with it. Anna, my sister with Down syndrome, has changed my outlook on how I see and understand things.
She’s taught me how to be patient, kind, and observant. Anna sometimes struggles with basic tasks that I’ve never had trouble completing. Oftentimes it was frustrating when I was younger. It’s not hard for me, so why is it hard for her? But as I grew older and my understanding of our differences grew, my frustrations turned into understanding – not just for her but for everyone. I’ll never be able to go through the struggles Anna goes through, so the best thing I can do is be understanding. If I can be understanding towards her, I can be understanding towards everyone. Anna has instilled a level of patience and kindness in me that I know I wouldn’t have without her.
Anna has taught me to be confident. Low self-confidence is something I’ve struggled with all of my life. Watching Anna find so much joy in the little things has helped me realize that life is so much more than worrying about what others think. Life is about living in the moment and enjoying what you love to do. She’s helped break me out of the notion that I need to be the best at everything I do.
Anna has taught me to be a better friend. I’ve learned the value of support and how much it means to show someone you care. I believe the responsibility it takes to provide for Anna has influenced me to provide greater attentiveness towards my friends than I would have without a sibling with a disability.
Lastly, Anna has taught me the importance of difference. Everyone has their own unique wants and needs, but we often find ourselves trying to be like one another. Anna, on the other hand, loves standing out. She embraces what she loves and isn’t afraid to show off. I’ve learned to appreciate the uniqueness of everyone. It’s the differences between all of us that make everyone special.
Growing up with a sibling with a disability has its challenges, but I’ve gained a level of empathy that I would be missing had I not. I truly believe that Anna has made me into a better person by teaching me how to perceive and understand the emotions of another person.
Jack and Anna grew up in Chicago with their older brother, Joe. Jack is 2020 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives and works as a Video Content Creator in Chicago and continues to be a champion to his younger sister, Anna, who adores him.