The SLN asked Liz Weintraub, a self-advocate who works for the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD), about her experience with her siblings, and why siblings matter.
SLN: Tell us a bit about your family.
Liz: I have three sisters, and I am close to all of them. One of them lives close by, and I actually just got off the phone with her. She calls from time to time just to say hello. Our mother passed away last year and now my sister calls even more, I think to help fill that loss a little bit.
SLN: How would you describe your relationship with your sisters?
Liz: All my sisters have their own kids and own lives. When we do talk, it’s like, we talk and say hello, but they don’t get in my business, and I don’t get in theirs. I actually interviewed one of my sisters for The Riot! Sibling issue. [Check the column out on Page 9!] Ultimately I know my sisters are there for me if I need them.
I used to try to get one of my sister’s attention a lot. Other people told me that it was okay but my sister didn’t like that I was getting upset when I would try to get her attention. One day I was getting upset and she left an event early. It made an impact and made me realize that I needed to try to change so that my sister and I could still be friends. We as self-advocates need to realize that, if we want to be friends with our siblings, we need to be respectful of their time.
SLN: Why do you think sibs are important?
Liz: Sibs are so valuable. My sisters have helped me more than a provider, because they know me best. Siblings are friends who you can trust, someone who isn’t paid.
SLN: What else should sibs know?
Liz: Even though we are disabled, people think that we need a lot from our sibs, but my sisters have their own lives, their own children to take care of, and I know they are there for me and would help me if I needed them, but I can’t run to them every 5 minutes. I’ve learned a lot about how to be respectful of others’ time.
Also, my sisters would advocate for me if I needed them to, but they don’t want to advocate in Congress. And that’s okay. I think you need to let siblings be who they are. It’s great that a lot of sibs within the SLN are really strong advocates, but it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. However, I know my sibs would advocate for me if I needed or wanted them to.