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Special Siblings: Growing Up With Someone With a Disability Hardcover – February 3, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-A look at what it is like to be a sibling of someone with a physical, mental, or emotional disability. McHugh's brother has both cerebral palsy and mental retardation, a fact that has shaped every aspect of her life. In the course of writing this book, she spoke to siblings ranging in age from 6 to 76 years of age who expressed feelings that ran the gamut from compassion to resentment. She writes with painful honesty and includes information about research studies, interviews with experts, and the experiences and stories of many siblings. The book covers important topics such as coping with anger, embarrassment with new friends, and dealing with the long-term care of the disabled sibling. McHugh concludes with a resource section that includes videotapes, newsletters, support groups, and organizations. This title could be of great interest, help, and comfort to readers who are looking for both information and encouragement from people who understand how they might be feeling.
Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

For siblings of those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, here is helpful advice, comfort, and the company of others who've been there. McHugh (formerly an editor at Woman's World and Cosmopolitan, and a frequent New York Times contributor) grew up with a mentally disabled brother for whom she became responsible as an adult after their mother died. McHugh doesn't shrink from the tough issues, even when looking at her own actions. Mostly, she reports, she blocked her brother and his problems out of her life as much as possible. So on one level, this is about McHugh's own journeyone viewed wrenchingly from another angle when one of her own children becomes blind and has a leg amputated as a result of complications from diabetes. But moving on from her own experience, McHugh offers information, understanding, and resources for others, on a wide range of issues: from childhood fears about the parents marriage, to troubles in ones own marriage caused by caring for a disabled sibling, to the urge to somehow make it all better (``For a sibling, there is nothing more painful than watching your mother's heart break because one of her children is wounded''). McHugh considers needs and problems for each age and developmental group, from childhood on. Real help, real comfort for those personally affected. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (February 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786862858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786862856
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,569,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I live in Chatham, New Jersey and spend as much time in New York City as I can. I love that city! My husband and I have a date every Friday and have lunch in the city and go to a movie. especially foreign films. I love Cape Cod and hope to live there some day and look at the ocean while I write away on my laptop. I love Paris and go there whenever I can. I studied there for a year when I was very young and I even like the French. I have a one-woman act based on "How Not to Become a Little Old Lady," which I perform for women's groups and I do my impression of bacon frying, share my chocolate and wine diet, show illustrations from this book and my other humor books, and do a little tap dance at the end. I have a daughter who lives on Mercer Island, Washington and three grandsons who are perfect. My life is very full and I love talking to other writers.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Reader from Philadelphia on March 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, I really wish that people who have not grown up with a disabled sibling would not write negative reviews of this book because they just don't know what it is like. My sister had polio and her illness and subsequent operations took all of my families' resources both financial and emotional. I grew up thinking that I was unimportant and that maybe if I was sick too, I would get attention. My earliest thoughts were those of wishing that I would just die so I didn't have to feel so bad/guilty all the time. Kids that grow up with disabled siblings often feel that they did something wrong to cause the disability. My middle sister and I both felt that way, yet we weren't even born when it happened.
Ms. McHugh has written an incredibly honest book that will be greatly appreciated by anyone else in this situation. We live in a world of silence and isolation, how can you ever complain when you can walk, talk, hear, etc. You would be considered extremely selfish. The life of a sibling of a disabled person is very distorted.
Thank you, Ms. McHugh for your courage.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Linda Moran on May 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I have a child with a disability, and I wanted to do what I can to be helpful to my three other children. It was a wonderful read! It reassured me, which is something all mothers need a lot of. It also reminded me that vigilance about sibling excesses is in order. After reading it, I reminded my children that they don't have to grow up to be superstars in some kind of effort to compensate for what my one child lacks.
I enjoyed the author's willingness to be so honest about her feelings, yet even when revealing negative feelings, she asserted a positive spin by contrasting her feelings with more positive feelings of others. It's clear that much of her difficulty had to do with being raised in a different time -- when there was little help, and when disability was considered shameful and secret. My favorite section of this book is the discussion of the common phenomenon of siblings entering the helping professions as adults. She has a fresh and interesting take on this topic.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I never knew that other siblings felt this way! After years of dealing with guilt, jealously, and overprotectiveness, I finally realized that I was not alone. Best of all, knowing that other sibs experience the same things, I don't feel the need to justify these feelings anymore. This book is a great starting point for sibs who want to/need to understand how having a "special sibling" has affected their life. FYI: Your special sibling doesn't necessarily have to have a obvious physical special need. I belive that sibs of those who suffer from mental illnesses will also find this book comforting and familiar.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I wish my ex-husband would read this book! I would like to think that siblings of families today have a better time of it--but everything Mary said fit in exactly with my ex-husband's family. And the issues begun in childhood carried into adulthood and affected all his relationships! Mary writes very honestly about the ambivalence (which may be too mild a word) of living with a sibling with a disability. The guilt, the anger, the loss of attention....it was all there for him, just as it happened to Mary.
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