[Client News Release]  I want to tell you about a program coming back to New Mexico this Friday that will help siblings of people living with autism understand that they are just as important as their brother and sister living with Special Needs. Centria Health Care along with the Autism Society of New Mexico are bringing back a successful program that provides an outlet for siblings of special needs children, that lets them know that they too are special, needed and wanted.

“Sibshops is a program that blends recreational activities with education, designed to make the siblings of children with special needs, feel important and needed, giving them a chance to still be a kid,” said Chelsea Lumm, Operations Director, Centria Healthcare New Mexico Autism Services.  The program also helps create closer relationships between siblings.

“Having a child or a sibling living with autism can affect a child without autism in many ways,” Lumm said.  “On one hand, the sibling without autism can grow up resenting his brother or sister because they get all the attention. On the other hand, the sibling can grow overly defensive of their sibling and dedicate their whole life to protecting their brother or sister. Or they can embrace their sibling and find ways to still be a kid.”

Earlier this year, seven year old Johanna, whose 10-year old brother Jhonatan is living with an autism spectrum disorders, participated in a Sibshop. While she may have taken on a motherly role in caring for Jhonatan, along with her mom and dad, she is learning that she is not alone and that she has the right to her own life, including the chance to still be a kid.

Through programs like Sibshops, Johanna is able to be herself with other kids going through a similar experience. Sibshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with special needs can be both challenging and rewarding for siblings. 

Based on the success of other Sibshops held earlier this year, Centria Health Care along with the New Mexico Autism Society, are planning two more Sibshops in September, including:

Friday September 23, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, Centennial High School, Media Room, 1950 Sonoma Ranch Blvd., Las Cruces, NM 88011  

Centria also partnered with Las Cruces Public Schools to host the SibShops there Running the meetings are trained facilitators, generally a certified BCBA or clinical supervisor. The program is free.  For more information, visit www.centriahealthcare.com.  NOW LET’S START THE CONVERSATION

Centria Healthcare Autism Services serves children and young adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with in-home and center-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy in Michigan, Texas, and New Mexico. Based in Novi, Mich., Centria employees over 1000 people. Centria Healthcare a leading provider of home-based catastrophic injury rehabilitation, private duty nursing and supportive living services.