Abstract

How is life different for someone who grows up with a sibling who has mental retardation? In this phenomenological case study, I profile the life experiences of a 39-year-old woman as sibling to a 35-year-old man with Down syndrome, using her own words as she explored her sibling experience and how this relationship shaped her identity, experiences, and life choices. Emerging themes, including her self-perception and perception of family members, her identity formation, and the impact of the experience are discussed. A number of possible variables for future quantitative research are suggested based on her experiences, including increased empathy in typically developing siblings and the sibling with disability as a barometer of other people's traits and their impact on the formation of other significant relationships.

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