On April 4-5, TABS (TN Adult Brothers and Sisters of people with disabilities) held our 6th annual statewide conference in Nashville. Siblings of brothers and sisters with disabilities, as well as several individuals who were not siblings themselves, but wanted to learn about the needs of siblings, joined us from across the state. Every year, this conference is a wonderful opportunity for old friends and new friends to gather together and share our stories, offer support to each other, and learn more about supporting all members of our families to live successful and rewarding lives in our communities.
We heard from a ton of wonderful speakers and presenters, who covered a wide variety of topics important to us. We learned about helping our siblings access employment supports, nurturing supportive and rewarding community relationships for our siblings and ourselves, strategies for managing difficult conversations around future planning with our families, and how the Partners in Policymaking™ program can help us advocate for change that benefits all people with disabilities. Speakers presented about the process of person-centered planning, conservatorship and financial planning, the benefits of sharing our family stories, and even how musical group experiences like “therapeutic drumming” can help build community. Many of us were moved by our keynote speaker, Caroline McGraw, as she shared her story of her journey as a sister to a brother with autism who has many challenging behaviors; we discussed “what’s hard” and “what helps” for our own journeys with our brothers and sisters.
The 6th annual TABS conference provided a great opportunity for learning and laughing together side by side with fellow siblings who have “been there.” Our group is looking forward to growing our numbers and exploring new and creative options for supporting siblings of people with disabilities in Tennessee during 2014!
Emma Shouse, TABS Executive Committee