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Frequently Asked Question

Sibshops are a great place for Sibs (the siblings of children with disabilities) to come together in a place just for them. Read on to find out more!

What are Sibshops?

Sibshops are interactive, age-appropriate workshops for children and youth who have a sibling/s with an intellectual or developmental disability or life-limiting health condition. Sibshops offer brothers and sisters of siblings with special needs (collectively referred to as "Sibs") an opportunity to meet and develop a sense of community in a fun, recreational setting.


The Sibshop approach is a research-informed mix of upbeat, engaging activities combined with opportunities for reflection and sharing about both the positive and less positive aspects of having a sibling with a disability. Sibshops provide an opportunity for Sibs to explore and express feelings and experiences commonly shared by siblings of children with special needs.


Sibshops can be provided only by facilitators who have been trained and certified in the Sibshop model by The Sibling Support Project.


Are Sibshops new?

The first Sibshop was offered in 1982 at the University of Washington by Don Meyer, based on several years of graduate study of families with a child with a disability. In 1990, Don founded the Sibling Support Project at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Sibshops continue to be offered. In 2006, the Sibling Support Project became part of Kindering, the largest center providing services for neurodevelopmental conditions in Washington State. Sibshops today are offered not only around the United States, but also around the world, including in Argentina, England, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, and Turkey.


Who can attend Sibshops?

Sibshops are specifically for children and youth who have a sibling with an intellectual or developmental disability or a life-limiting health condition. Parent/caregivers of participants do not attend Sibshops. Sibs aged 8-18 are invited to attend, and will be grouped with similar ages. Sibshops West offers Sibshops for three different age groups: Grades 3 - 5, Grades 6 - 8, and Grades 9 - 12.


Who designs and runs the Sibshops?

Certified Sibshop facilitators design the workshops based on the Sibshop model and curricula that are made available by the Sibling Support Project and its network of facilitators. The facilitators include adult Siblings, parent/caregivers, and professionals who
work with children and youth (social workers, health care providers, etc.).

Sibshops West are primarily adult  Siblings, with parent/caregivers providing mainly “back of the  house” support (communications, workshop design and planning, handling Zoom for virtual workshops, etc.). Sibshops are planned and provided only by facilitators who have been trained and certified in the Sibshop model by The Sibling Support Project.


Are Sibshops a form of therapy?

No, Sibshops are not a form of therapy, though participation in Sibshops can have “therapeutic” benefits. Sibshops offer an interactive, nonjudgmental setting for Sibs to make new friends and connect in a safe, supportive environment. The Sibshops model is grounded in a strength based, wellness approach promoting support, learning and fun.


Who sponsors Sibshops?

Sibshops West is a fiscally sponsored project of the California Sibling Leadership Network (The California chapter of the Sibling Leadership Network). The facilitators and support team involved are all volunteers. A wide array of organizations sponsor Sibshops around the world, including early intervention centers, school districts, children’s hospitals, developmental disability services agencies, faith communities, and community centers. Sibshop facilitators generally partner with a local organization to offer Sibshops.


Are Sibshops free?

Sibshops West's virtual Sibshops are free to attend. At this time, virtual Sibshops are provided by a group of volunteer certified facilitators. Donations are welcome to support the program!

Let's Work Together

If you are interested in becoming involved as a volunteer for Sibshops, please use the Contact Us form to share your contact information.

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