The Sibling Support Project has been helping local agencies start Sibshops for several years. Many of the sibs who attended Sibshops as kids are now adults—and some of them are assuming increasingly active roles in the lives of their adult sibs who have disabilities.

Over the years, many Sibshop “grads” have shared with us how their involvement in Sibshops has positively affected their relationships with their siblings with disabilities and their own lives.

In the spring of 2005, University of Washington colleagues Amanda Johnson and Susan Sandall conducted an online survey of adults (ages 18-34, n=30) who had participated in Sibshops as children, and confirmed that when it comes to the lasting impact of Sibshops, there’s lots of good news to share.

Here are just a few of their findings:

  • Over 90% of the respondents said Sibshops had a positive effect on the feelings they had for their siblings;
  • Sibshops taught coping strategies to over 67%  of respondents;
  • 75% reported that Sibshops affected their adult lives; and
  • 94% said they would recommend Sibshops to others.

The authors state that the “results show that many aspects of the Sibshop program appeared to serve as protective factors for siblings of individuals with disabilities, a population who is frequently considered at-risk” and the “study shows that these positive results last into adulthood.” The study concluded, “The positive effects of the Sibshop program are not only apparent, but enduring.”

Johnson, A. B., & Sandall, S. (2005). Sibshops: A Follow-Up of Participants of  a Sibling Support Program. University of Washington, Seattle

Of course, those of us who have run Sibshops know that they are meaningful to the kids we serve. We can tell by the amazing comments Sibshoppers make during discussion activities, the fast friendships they form with other participants who “get it,” and when kids choose Sibshops instead of other recreational or social activities. But it is great to have the validation provided by a study such as this.

Also, we have long contended that the biggest beneficiaries of Sibshops are likely to be the sibs who have disabilities. If we support typically developing sibs as they grow up, we increase the chances that they will elect to remain lovingly involved in the lives of their brothers and sisters with disabilities as adults. To learn that 75% said that Sibshops had an impact on their adult lives is gratifying indeed!

Besides the apparent long-term impact, Sibshop coordinators at local agencies tell us that Sibshops reflect their commitment to family- centered services and are and are a great way to attract young families. If you’d like to bring Sibshops to your community, please give us a call or drop us a line. We’d be happy to help in any way we can.