My sister with an extra chromosome

Susie and Heidi are part of Grapevine's young people's project. Susie has kindly written this blog for us describing her great relationship with her sister.

I am a teenager who would be viewed by many members of society as a girl burdened by my sibling who 'suffers' from Down's syndrome, however this is certainly not the case.

She's made me aware and opened my eyes to a completely different and brilliant bunch of people. I've been introduced into a community of people who are so accepting, patient and non judgmental due to them having a loved one with special needs or having special needs themselves.

heidi and susie


She needs a little extra help when we go out, usually a 16 year old wouldn't have to help her almost 18 year old sister count money, cross roads or get the bus (which she can now do independently). Helping her with these things doesn't affect me negatively at all; I love that I can benefit Heidi in these ways. To me it's my self-imposed, rather enjoyable duty as sibling, not something that's expected by my parents.

My older sister has been far from a burden on my life, she continually brings me happiness with her jokes (although after they've been repeated 5 times they get a little boring!). Everyday she inspires me to work hard as I know how hard she's worked to beat the stereotype and get to where she is today; a young woman who's been at mainstream school her whole life, done 3 GCSEs, 3 BTECs, a diploma in hair and beauty and will be starting hairdressing college in September, with aspirations to leave home, get married and run her own salon.

The one burden I feel with my sister is the way society views people like her. I'm hurt by the stares Heidi gets when we go out, and some comments I've had from people at school. It's also annoying when people ask me questions such as 'what's her name' when Heidi's right there. It shuts them up quick when she butts in with 'I'm Heidi what's your name I love Justin Bieber do you like him?' or something along those lines.

My life definitely isn't the same as it would be if Heidi didn't have Down's syndrome, but it's certainly more interesting and fulfilled this way. Yes I have to do more for her than I would otherwise but it just makes her successes even more inspirational for me and others. She drives me mad at times, but isn't that what siblings are for?

I wouldn't have Heidi any other way, I love her and I am a very proud and happy sibling of a lovely young woman who happens to have an extra chromosome. 



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