I believe I am the person I am today because of my little sister. Growing up with a handicapped younger sister, was definately an eye opener to me. When you live with someone who has special needs, your look on life is different. My sister Claire was diagnosed with a rare gentic disease called Townes-Brocks Syndrome before she was one year old.Having this syndrome, she can not care for herself. She is tube fed, she does not talk, she has trouble with mobility, and her body develops at a slower pace than normal.Although she is sixteen years old, she is mentally four and physically eight. I would never wish my childhood let alone hers, to be different. Claire has helped me develop a relationship with many special needs children. Volunteering with her classmates, Special Olympics, and field trips, are just a few of the ways that I am involved with the special needs community
One of the first events for special needs children I ever volunteered for was the Special Olympics. I have been attending the Special Olympic since middle school, when Claire first started competing. Although I was too young at the time to help out, I was always there to cheer her on. I was so proud of her the first time she brought home three medals! She did not care for them too much, she chewed on them and left them around the house! I was so irritated because I wanted to keep them for her but she did not know the meaning of them. That was when it hit me, “Things are just things. As long as you have those who make you happy, you will be just content”. To Claire material objects have no meaning. Of coarse she loves her piano, tv, and ipad, but she could care less as long as she has her family. Claire has continued competeing and is now in the highschool level. When she moved to highschool, my family and I were extremely nervous. She had been at the middle school for four years and it seemed to be an enormous leap for her. Without a doubt, she did just fine! She learned how to use the computers to communicate and learn words and their meanings. We were very fortunate that they took the kids out in the community to go bowling, to see movies and even to the State Fair. Her teachers asked my mom to attend the State Fair with them, but she was unable to go and asked me if I would go for her. I was so excited to go, but it was a pain in the but to get permission from my principal. After writing an essay about why I should go and what kind of learning experience I would gain, she finally agreed to let me go. We enjoyed our day together and saw so much! Claire is up to try new things, but you have to convince her that it is a good idea. I wanted her to ride the marry-go-round, but she was not interested, After fighting with her to get out of her stroller we hoped on a bench and she loved it! One of the many lessons Ive learned is, “You have to try something new, to see if you’ll like it”. You can never give in to someone with special needs. They are just like the rest of us! Although they may have dissabilities, they are still obligated to go to school, follow rules, and behave. Behavior used to be an issue with Claire. When she was younger she did not fully grasp how to communicate. Whenever she was mad she would pull hair. Let me tell you, that was the worst thing ever! She had a death grip like no other, and would not let go for anthing. Now she knows some sign language and she has her own way of communicating. I will never forget the day I was called out of my math class to go help her teacher. I was confused as to why they would pull me out of my hardest class of the day, but when I arrived to her class I knew exactly why. Claire had her teacher by the hair and collar of her shirt. Obviously Claire was upset and I knew that, but her teacher seemed to think she was trying to kill her! I pryed Claire’s fingers out of her teacher’s hair and off of her shirt and held her untill she stopped crying. It was a good ten minutes, but she finally calmed down. Claire often has headaches and needs medicine to help them. I looked at her and asked her, “What’s wrong?” She signed to me “hurt”. I fixed the problem by giving her some tylenol and she was fine the rest of the day.
I could share stories upon stories about the adventures I have had with Claire Bear. She has taught me many valuable lessons that I will carry for the rest of my life. She has taught me different means of communication like sign language and by pulling me down the hall way to show me what she wants. I have learned alot about her syndrome and with that knowledge I was encouraged to learn about many more. Claire has changed the way I look at life. I never take anything for granted, I cheerish every moment with my family, I am more patient and understanding, and the list goes on! I thank God every day for letting me be apart of her life, and I know if she could speak she would say the same. I love my little sister to the moon and back and I will forever be her protective big sister.