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This past year, CARD-USF began offering Sibshops in different locations within our catchment area. The Sibshops were facilitated by CARD-USF staff members Serena Samar, Cindy Valdes, Michelle White and Cristina Munoz. Sibshops are designed for siblings who have brothers and sisters with a disability or a special need. They address both the social and emotional needs of siblings. As with parent support groups, Sibshops provide an opportunity to find common ground and foster their own peer support network. Sibshops use both information and discussion activities intermingled with high-energy recreational activities.

Most siblings are doing very well with their unique situation and a Sibshop program is not a remedy but a place where siblings can have fun, relax and just be a kid! Believe it or not, siblings need time to socialize and be with other peers besides their brother or sister. As one adult sibling facilitator reported, “I love my sister very much but just to have someone ask what I like about having a sister with a disability deeply affected me on an emotional level. No one had ever asked what I liked about her!” No matter the age, Sibshops make a huge difference in a sibling’s life!

Brothers and sisters often have the longest relationship with the person with disabilities, even longer than the parents. Having a Sibshop program can give immediate results and the long-term effects will be immeasurable. Improving a sibling’s coping level, expanding their knowledge base, and talking with other children can help the entire family system.





Sibshops are usually facilitated by a team of professionals with a wide range of experiences (social workers, teachers, OT’s, psychologists, nurses, professors and adult siblings). The facilitators must have some prior working knowledge of disabilities or illness, depending on the sibling population that is targeted.

Facilitators must have a good sense of humor and find being with children an enjoyable experience. Ultimately, the facilitator should respect the participant’s input on whatever topic they are commenting on. This is their time and place to make their peace and be themselves.
A great resource for starting a sibshop program: Sibshops Workshops for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, visit: