Relationships among siblings are precious. A sibling is often one of the most significant and lifelong  relationships a child with disabilities will experience. Frequently, a sibling becomes a teacher, a guide and a role model to a child with multiple disabilities and vision impairment (MDVI). Family involvement  is of the utmost importance when it comes to educating a child with disabilities and the inclusion of siblings is equally important.

The story of Sneha and her brother Ansh provides an example of the beautiful and nurturing bond that can develop between siblings. Growing up with cheerful sister Sneha, a 7 year old  girl with vision impairment, intellectual and physical disabilities, has had a positive impact  on the life of her brother, Ansh. Ansh’s love and support has helped Sneha learn and thrive. And Sneha is learning and thriving today more than ever!

In June 2020, Sneha was identified through Perkins India’s Identification and Intervention (IDI) Program during a door-to-door screening in the Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh. Before this time, she was not able to go to school or be involved in any formal education like her brother Ansh. Because she had disabilities, she sat at home.

Sneha having fun with her brother Sneha’s brother encouraging her to walk by giving her reinforcement (a piece of her favourite potato chips)

Now, Sneha is learning every day just like her brother. She has a teacher, Arti, who provides individualized education based on her needs and a team that works to ensure she is getting the interventions she needs. Her greatest accomplishment so far is that she is learning to walk. With some support, she is able to stand and take a few steps with a walker she received through the IDI program. Sneha is thrilled to be able to explore the world around her with more independence.

Ansh has been Sneha’s companion, guide and teacher in many ways throughout this journey. He motivates her to walk using the walker, and encourages her to communicate and interact with other children in the neighbourhood. Sneha enjoys being with her brother and cooperates with him for each and every activity that they do together. Their mother says, “the siblings have a beautiful bond. Her brother is always willing to help her. He observes the activities performed by her teacher and he helps Sneha practice the same at home.” And even when Sneha’s teacher is working with her at home, Ansh is there to support her learning – adding another layer of fun, joy, and motivation to the sessions.