CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 12/11/12 -- Easter Seals recently released its Siblings Study to call attention to the experiences of caregivers as well as the services and supports families need. The Study, conducted by Ipsos and made possible by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), aimed to better understand the implications of adults who have siblings with developmental disabilities and gauge perceptions of these sibling relationships compared to those of the general public, or adults who have siblings but without disabilities.
"The findings will help us shape our supports for families caring for someone with a disability and raise greater awareness about the challenges caregivers face," says Patricia Wright, Easter Seals National Director of Autism Services. "There are more than 65 million* caregivers in the United States and the Siblings Study will paint a better picture of their needs, especially of those who are caring for a sibling with a disability."
Siblings: Partners for Life
Sibling relationships are our longest-lasting relationships. Twenty-three percent of adults assume or will assume (nearly one third) the role of primary care provider for their adult brother or sister with a disability. While most respondents -- eight in ten, compared to the six in ten of general respondents -- convey their sibling with a disability had a positive and unique impact on their life, they admit it's not always easy. Future caregivers don't feel emotionally or financially prepared for the demands of this role.
Through the Siblings Study, Easter Seals found siblings who have a brother or sister with a disability are already involved in their sibling's day-to-day life more than the general public. That is, 80 percent have a close relationship with their sibling with a disability and this relationship enhances their life -- teaching them patience, understanding, compassion and providing perspective. Only sixty percent of the general public feels the same way.
However, the Study found that having a sibling with a developmental disability can negatively impact the cohesiveness of the family, parental relationships, interactions with extended family or quality of life. Three quarters of primary caregivers say that sometimes their relationship with their sibling puts a strain on their family life and that it's difficult to balance their own needs and those of their family with those of their sibling.
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