SLN members attended the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference in Washington, DC November 9-12, 2014. AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs, including the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs). Many UCEDDs supported the creation of the national SLN and also support state sibling chapters across the country. For instance, the Illinois UCEDD, the Institute on Disability and Human Development, continues to host the national office of the SLN in Chicago.
A Sibling Gathering was held on the first night of the AUCD conference where siblings got to share their stories as well as some information and resources. It was a great way to meet many other siblings of people with disabilities who were attending the conference and are part of the AUCD network. The second day of the conference, SLN members participated as leaders of the Family Support Special Interest Group to engage the AUCD network in advancing leadership in supporting families as part of the core work and values.
On the third day of the conference, Katie Arnold, SLN’s Executive Director, presented on “Siblings of People with Disabilities: An Untapped Constituency for Policy Advocacy.” Katie talked about the Sibling Policy Forums held in Illinois in partnership with the IL UCEDD. She also shared findings from focus groups asking siblings about their roles in advocacy. This research was done by Katie, Meghan Burke, SLN’s Chair of Research, and Lex Owen and is an exciting new contribution to the research literature on siblings.