The UC Davis MIND Institute is expanding its free sibling support programs to include in-person events and older teens. The groups are for neurotypical youth ages 7 to 16 who have a sibling with autism, ADHD, fragile X syndrome or other developmental disability. Certified child life specialists run the support sessions, which include activities, discussions and art projects.
Registration is now open for the next sessions, which start in late April.
“The relationship between a sibling and a young person with a developmental disability is really important,” said Erin Roseborough, a child life specialist at the MIND Institute who started the program. “These young people often serve an important support role in the family, but they also need support themselves. That’s what these groups offer.”
An $8,000 grant from Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis has made it possible to expand the program this year.
Many parents have requested a group for teens over the years, as there is a lack of resources for older youth in the community. We want to support them, too, because we know how meaningful shared experiences and connection can be.”-Erin Roseborough, child life specialist
Expanding sibling support
The MIND Institute has been supporting siblings for about 15 years. It began with enrichment activities and evolved into a stand-alone program with its own curriculum.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group met in person, but for the past three years the group met virtually. Now, the group will offer a hybrid option: virtual sessions and optional in-person monthly sessions.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Veronica Tuss, a MIND Institute child life specialist who helps to run the group. “During the pandemic, kids from all over the country were able to join virtually. Now, we’ll add the in-person connection with siblings facing similar daily challenges in the region.”
The monthly events will be held at the MIND Institute in Sacramento and will include dinner, socialization, activities, games and crafts. The sessions are being held in partnership with Warmline Family Resource Center.
Over the past several years, the sibling group was for youth ages 7-12. This year, a second group for teens ages 13-16 will be offered.
I love watching them interact and find similarities in their experiences, both the challenges and the joys. We have always been so impressed at the level of compassion and empathy demonstrated by these siblings.”-Veronica Tuss, child life specialist
“We are thrilled to be running a new group for teens,” Roseborough said. “Many parents have requested a group for teens over the years, as there is a lack of resources for older youth in the community. We want to support them, too, because we know how meaningful shared experiences and connection can be.”
Both Roseborough and Tuss note that the biggest challenge has always been accepting all interested families, as the groups tend to fill up quickly.
“Hosting these groups and leading discussions with these siblings is incredibly rewarding,” Tuss said. “I love watching them interact and find similarities in their experiences, both the challenges and the joys. We have always been so impressed at the level of compassion and empathy demonstrated by these siblings.”
Support group for youth ages 7-12:
- Tuesdays at 4 p.m. via Zoom for 8 weeks
- First session starts April 25
- Additional 8-week sessions from June to August and from September to November
Support group for teens ages 13-16:
- Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom for 6 weeks
- First session starts April 26
- Additional 6-week session from August to September
For both groups, youth must be taking part in a MIND Institute sibling group for the first time and must have a laptop, computer or tablet with internet access.
- Ages 7-16; siblings will be split into age-appropriate groups
- Seven monthly sessions, Wednesdays from 6 – 7:30 p.m.
- First meeting is April 19. Final meeting is Nov. 15
- Takes place at UC Davis MIND Institute, 2825 50th, Sacramento, 95817
- Masking is required
- Transportation is not provided