Welcome to Special Needs Siblings! My name is Jeniece LaGloria. I am the mother of five fabulous children all of whom rock my world and shake up my soul! I am the founder of Special Needs Siblings, Inc. I am a writer, a speaker, and an advocate for autism, epilepsy, and special needs siblings. I am here bold, faulty, and free. Why the motivation for this movement?
I began Special Needs Siblings in May 2016 with the desire to bring awareness and support to our special needs community. I had no idea it would become such a beautiful movement of love and support. I was a mother who was struggling with balance and imperfections. I knew something was missing but I did not know what. Things kept happening in our family where I was missing the mom mark. Now, this was not intentional, but it still had a huge impact on the children.
One day at Caleb’s basketball game I missed a BIG shot he made because Christian (brother with autism and epilepsy) had an episode and I needed calm him. Another time I was supposed to attend a field trip for Jada’s class, but I had to withdraw because Christian had began seizing and I needed to stay with him. Honestly, I could always find assistance regarding my son’s disability, but information pertaining to his siblings was scarce. I was hurting, confused, and torn. I wanted to be the best mother to them all, but I did not know how! I decided I wanted to find others like myself. I made a choice to create an Instagram account and begin sharing stories of myself and my children with hopes others would want to speak their truths as well. Today, we have a growing network of 20,000 people who recognize and share the same desire to bring awareness to the siblings within our families.
I have found in speaking with parents and siblings over the last few years that there is a great need to support the siblings within the special needs families. The parents are often strained emotionally, financially, and physically when dealing with their disabled child that sometimes the typical child does not receive the same needed attention. This has been known to cause different problems, ex. resentment, anger, jealousy. There were also greater possibilities of behavior issues with the siblings of special needs children. We additionally noticed that the siblings are often full of compassion and empathy for others in greater capacities than their peers. They are some of the kindest individuals you will ever come across. Their hearts are full and their feelings matter.
Special Needs Siblings, Inc.’s mission is to empower and embrace the parents and siblings within the special needs families by providing education, resources and support programs. Donations made to Special Needs Siblings, Inc. will be used to build programs, secure resources, and provide assistance to special needs siblings in the community. We will offer a place of community by bringing awareness to the families by focusing on bridging the gap between the siblings. Our goal is to be able to strengthen the family and sibling bond. We are proud to say we are officially tax exempt and looking forward to the GREAT things we can do !!
Thank you so much Lauren for being such an wonderful mother!! We really enjoyed hearing from you and about your daughter Julia. She sounds like such a joy! Thank you for allowing us to share your story with others to start off this New Year with encouragement and love. SNS!
My name is Lauren and I’m a single mother of two wonderfully amazing children! My oldest daughter Julia is 13 and my non verbal autistic son Colin who is 5. Words don’t describe how blessed I am to have these two kiddos because without them I’d be lost.
The reason for my email is really to tell you about my 13 daughter Julia who is my rock my best friend and the daughter every parent dreams of! Julia has always been a straight A student who is always there to lend a helping hand and the kind of patience and love in her heart that we all strive to have!
This past year my ex husband and their father had to walk away from the children’s lives as he struggled with an addiction he is hopefully trying to overcome to this day but knowing that these two kids dearly miss their father and hurt inside ways I’m not even aware of at times. Christmas is just a few days away and I want nothing more than for these two babies have their father back and healthy but realistically that’s not in the cards for the time being!
Please don’t feel bad for my children or myself but remember this holiday season that we all should be thankful for everyone and everything we have in our lives and that no matter what show the ones you care about that you love them and are so blessed to have them in your life. Never take anything for granted because it can all disappear in an instant and those memories are all you’ll have left.
Thank you so much Shalyn for being such an awesome sister!! We really enjoyed hearing from you and wish you the best in every future endeavor! We love you, SNS
I am Shalyn Reynolds. I’m 19, from Michigan and my brother is Quentin Reynolds.
SNS: What does ‘Special Needs Siblings’ mean to you?
Shalyn: The phrase special needs siblings mean to me that you’re a brother/sister to somebody who’s not quite like you, but they deserve the same love and attention a normal child gets. You just have to understand their different likes and dislikes.
SNS: What are some ups and downs to being a SNS?
Shalyn: Some ups of being a Special Needs Sibling you get to have a challenge with dealing with them, learning different things about their disability, being a role model to them. Some downs of being a Special Needs Sibling having to worry about them not fitting it with other kids, them not getting the same attention as the normal kids.
SNS: Do you have a favorite memory with you and your brother?
Shalyn: My favorite memory with my brother was going to Chicago for a skateboard championship and he got to meet all of his favorite skateboarders, he’s really into skateboarding. Just seeing how happy he was made me happy and excited he got to be there.
SNS: What’s your dream?
Shalyn:I’m majoring in special education, my dream is to open up a facility for kids with special needs so they can interact with other kids with special needs, they’ll be able to feel comfortable, do different activities just something fun for them.
SNS: Is there anything you enjoy because of your brother?
Shalyn: My brother is big on skateboarding I never once liked skateboarding until he started to like it he’s always outside riding his skateboard I get on it sometimes just to make him happy. If he’s not outside skateboarding he’s in the house watching it.
A deep thank you to Miss Southeast International, Ciara Hibdon, of Fayetteville Arkansas. She is the older sister of Steele and we honor her for being such an amazing big sister!! We love you, SNS
Steele and I have had quite the extraordinary life. Being exactly two years and two days apart we share a close bond and have shared countless birthday parties.
At the age of three, Steele was diagnosed with autism. I was five at the time. I remember hearing the word autism for the first time and thinking, “but there’s nothing wrong with him”. Since that day it has been my mission to be his advocate and a Hero for Autism. Through our brother sister bond I have learned compassion, patience and most importantly hard work.
We were told Steele would never graduate high school, this fall he will be attending the University of Arkansas studying journalism in the honors program. None of this would have been possible without his Heroes for Autism.
As Miss Southeast International I am spreading the message of autism acceptance through my platform Heroes for Autism, we often hear of autism awareness but not acceptance. My job, to educate and encourage others to reach out and befriend those who minds work a little differently and help create a world that is more sensory friendly for these people.
I am working with Walmart Corporate on enhancing the shopping experience for those who have autism and other special needs by offering quiet hours and assistance shopping and checking out. It’s the simple things that make the biggest difference.
Steele has gone to infinity and beyond to be where he is today and I am so proud of the young man he has become. He inspires me each and every day and makes me strive to be a better person. He truly is a Hero for Autism.
A heartwarming thank you to Rebecca, a 34 year old mother of four: Alex (8), Jackson (7), Ava (6), and Isabel (4), from Tennessee. She allowed her son Alex to take part in our SNS interview and share parts of his heart with us! We honor you, Alex! SNS
SNS: What is your favorite memory?
Alex: “When Jack and I rode roller coaster together at Dollywood and we screamed and laughed and had a great time!”
SNS: Are there any activities you like because of your sibling(s)?
Alex: “I love making Jack laugh! He thinks it’s funny when I act out different movies and we play together. He makes me want to be a better actor, so I’m always trying to find new costumes and things to make him laugh and happy.”
SNS: Has your sibling ever influenced the type of friends you associate with?
Alex: “Some of my friends I don’t talk to anymore, because they made fun of Jack when he left school. It wasn’t Jack’s fault but they won’t listen and they wouldn’t leave him alone, so I don’t hang out with them now.”
SNS: Does your relationship with your sibling(s) make you strive to better yourself in any aspect of your life?
Alex: “Jack makes me want to be kind. He makes me want to help other people and he shows me how to be strong. I like that Jack thinks I’m funny and that I can help cheer him up whenever he’s upset or angry.”
SNS: Do you think your positive relationship with your sibling(s) has helped you gain important characteristics such as confidence and compassion?
Alex: “Jack showed me that I have to stand up for people. If I see someone getting picked on or made fun of, I have to step in and tell the other guy ‘hey, knock it off!’ And if they don’t, I have to find a teacher and get them to stop. It’s not funny to pick on people and I don’t like it when kids pick on people who can’t talk.”
SNS: What are two things you wish everyone could know about people with a disability?
Alex: “I wish people knew that Jack can’t help it sometimes. When he gets upset, he’s trying not to be, but he doesn’t know how to say what he wants to, and that makes him mad. I wish people wouldn’t make fun of Jack. It hurts my feelings, because Jack just wants to be friends with people. He’s my best brother and my best friend. And I have to help him because I’m his big brother and I love him.”
SNS: What in your view should people not say to siblings of people with a disability?
Alex: “Don’t make fun of people with autism. It isn’t funny. They aren’t making fun of you!”