Sibshops Are Coming to Breakthrough PT!

Sibshops Logo

After last minute notice and planning, I attended a two-day conference recently to be trained in facilitating Sibshops. Have you ever heard of them?

Before a month or so ago, I hadn’t either…but once understanding what they are and the value they hold, they are quite amazing! I want to take you through my experience from the conference so you can also gain some insight into these unique programs.

Day 1 :

The first day of the conference was focused on educating us on siblings of special needs children and gaining perspective on the unique concerns and unique opportunities they face along their lifespan. Unique concerns were named as things such as embarrassment of their special needs sibling and lack of attention from their parents due to their siblings taking priority. These were amongst a very long list of other issues. Some I can be honest and say I didn’t realize, but most I have recognized when interacting with many of the families I have encountered along my career thus far.

Although there was a long list of concerns these siblings face, there was also an equally long list of unique opportunities these siblings have. Amongst this list was learning advocacy (especially at a young age), gaining access to resources, patience, and empathy. Anyone reading this could most likely easily see how these listed here could be related to a sibling of a child with special needs.

Amongst the attendees were health care professionals, service providers, adult siblings, and parents. It was inspiring to see the parents that were attending this workshop to gain insight into the struggles of their other children and try to see what they can do better and what they are already doing well. My favorite part was getting to see it from each perspective; each holding such value but in a very different light.

Day 2 :

The second day was much more interactive. We all got to participate in an actual sibshop with children in the local area. While the day was filled with silly games and being goofy (not far off from my typical day)… we got to experience these siblings opening up. Young children were discussing concerns and what they wish was different but also what they enjoy about their brother or sister and what they are good at that makes them even more special.

So, what is a Sibshop?


Here’s Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and my co-facilitator Patti!

Sibshops are “opportunities for brothers and sisters of children with special health and developmental needs to obtain support and education within a recreational context.” They are not a therapy group, but rather an opportunity for peer support; allowing these siblings to feel less isolated and let them know they are heard. It is a safe place for them to discuss what they like and dislike about having a sibling with special needs while connecting with others who understand.

So I urge you that even if your other children are supportive, are responsible, and generally happy, it is SO important to provide them with these opportunities; Opportunities that can provide peer support, recreational fun, and mostly an opportunity to celebrate the sibling of your child with special needs.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Sibshops,



Any other questions please email or call 631-348-0959. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Christine Astarita