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Sibshops offers therapy, group support for siblings of special needs children

Children who have siblings with special needs now have a place of their own to express their frustrations and learn how to deal with a wide range of emotions that often comes when having a brother or sister that can often take up a lot of their parents time.

Sibshops is a new program sponsored by Play Therapy Center of Oxford, the University of Mississippi Medical Center Nursing School and the UM Counselor Education Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment.

Brothers and sisters of children with special needs will meet other siblings who deal with similar issues, where they can talk with others who understand about the good, and sometimes not so good, parts of having a sibling with special needs; learn more about disabilities and the services that people with disabilities receive; and most importantly, have some fun.

Sibshops are for children 6 through 14 and are run by a team of people who have professional, and in some cases, a personal understanding of the impact a child’s special needs can have on siblings.

“Sibshops are designed as fun and engaging support groups for siblings of children with special needs, regardless of what that disability may be,” said Daniel McPherson, who is working on a specialty degree in child play therapy at Ole Miss and is one of the organizers of the Sibshops.

“This is a population that deserves recognition and support to overcome the obstacles they face on a daily basis but is often overlooked.

“We hope that this service can help siblings embrace both the good and the difficult parts of being a sibling to a child with special needs and draw from the support of other siblings that ‘get it.’”Sibshops is a national program brought to Oxford by Carol Langlandn, owner of Play Therapy Center of Oxford and Robin Wilkerson, professor of nursing, assistant dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center for the Oxford campus.

“There’re about 400 Sibshops programs nationwide,” McPherson said. “But there wasn’t one here locally until now.”

The first Sibshops meeting will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. On Dec. 11 at the Oxford-University United Methodist Church.

Sibshops will then be held every other month.

The cost is $10 per child and $5 for each additional child per family.

There are a limited number of scholarships available for those families who cannot afford the fee.

Registration is required.

For more information or to register, call Cindy Conrad at 662-915-2057 or email her at cconrad@umc.edu.