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Myth: There's Nothing I Can Do to Advocate for my Sibling with a Disability

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Something I hear a lot from other siblings is that they feel like there’s nothing they can do to advocate for their brother or sister. They don’t know where to start or think they can help in any meaningful way. The truth is, there’s ALWAYS something you can do. There are many ways you can advocate, and lots of places where you can get started. Here are a few suggestions:

Get Communicating


Two girls sitting in a cafe using sign language to communicate.

My brother knows more than anyone what he wants out of life. My family has a pretty good idea as well. We know his preferences and we know his interests. We know where he likes to go and what he doesn’t like to do. Advocacy can start with a simple conversation. If you want to get more involved, communicate with your sibling. Ask them about how you can support them to live a full and inclusive life in community. It is essential that the needs and wants of your sibling are central to any advocacy efforts you undertake. We should always be advocating with, not on behalf of our siblings. If your sibling is comfortable with the idea, have a conversation with their parents, guardians, or greater support network as well. The people who play a central role in your sibling’s life are their greatest allies. Through these conversations, you can better understand how your advocacy efforts can help your sibling realize their vision for the future.

Get Motivated

The cover photo promoting the Crip Camp film. A camp counsellor and a camper  smile at the camera. The camp counsellor has a guitar over one arm and is pushing the camper who is a wheelchair  user. In the background is the camp.

Have you ever seen Crip Camp? Crip Camp is a 2020 documentary exploring how a summer camp for teens with disabilities in 1971 influenced the disability rights movement in America. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was heavily influenced by disability rights advocates who emerged from this camp. Their advocacy started with the simple idea that all people are created equal and deserve equal rights. For many people with disabilities who attended the camp, it was the first time they experienced a world that accepted them for who they are. The camp counsellors and campers treated everyone like a person, not a problem. The stigma and discrimination that defined the disability experience of many campers of that time was left at the door – it showed them what a world that included them could look like. Most importantly, Crip Camp illustrates what a disability rights movement led by people with disabilities and their allies can look like. We have a long way to go before the world is fully inclusive and equitable for people with disabilities and their families, but Crip Camp demonstrates that this is attainable.

Get Thinking


A sticky note with a drawn lightbulb on a cork board.

Have you ever thought about how you, as the sibling of someone with a disability, have a different perspective on the world? Before I started working in the disability and non-profit sector, I never really thought about how the experience of growing up with a sibling with a disability shaped how I view the world. I was aware of the experiences of my brother and the inequities he faced, but I was unaware of the sheer injustice of his discrimination until my work opened my eyes to the possibility of full inclusion. If you take anything from this blog post, I hope it’s this – write down 1 way you’d like to see your city, province, or country change to benefit the life of your sibling. Carry that thought with you and sit with it. Think about why you wrote that down and why it is so important for your sibling. Think about how that change could improve their day-to-day life in Canada. Think about the steps it would take to make that happen. Could you make that change a reality? If you can’t, who will? These are just a few ways to get started. Do you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions you'd like me to address? Please send me an email! I’m always happy to connect with other siblings or anyone else curious about sibling advocacy.

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