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Because family life matters

Sophie’s story my best brother

Sophie will soon be heading off to university. Here she shares her story of growing up with her twin brother Stephen who has additional needs.

An Sophie's storyGrowing up with Stephen has been a challenge, and still is a challenge, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! He is an amazing young man who is kind and thoughtful. I wouldn’t want any other brother.

Stephen has been severely bullied in the past, including having gangs of young people getting in his face and threatening him. At these times I become very protective of him and want to pick him up and take him away. However as he has been growing into a young man, I have learnt that he can fight his own battles, he can show people he is strong and that he can deal with things. I had a tough time during school when I got bullied about Stephen. Having to deal with that on a daily basis was very hard because I would become so angry and sometimes want to just really go for them.

As Stephen’s sister, another thing that was challenging was watching him go through many difficult operations. I always wanted him to be well again. These serious operations on his chest meant he couldn’t move for days without being in a lot of pain and it hurt me to watch him go through all of this. His latest operation was another major one on his chest to try and improve its shape and structure. The operation was successful, but the reason he had it at all was because he felt unhappy and insecure because of the bullying. He was seriously brave, but it meant Christmas wasn’t as enjoyable as usual for him as he had drains in.

Stephen has developed so much academically over the years. He never gives up on what he does and that is a real strength. He is able to fix things around the house that no one else can! He will do anything for anyone; he is a gentleman. He is doing so well at school and is loved by the teachers. He has a great sense of humour which never fails to make me smile.

As a child growing up I have been impacted by having a brother with special needs because I have almost had to be put second – his needs have always needed to be seen to first. The many hospital appointments are countless, but I would do anything for Stephen.

I learn things from him that I would never have thought of.

Our relationship is very close and he is probably just as protective of me as I am of him. We often go for our ‘Starbucks’ and I buy him a coffee he wants and we have a laugh together. I see life in another way – I see Stephen and I think what he’s gone through and he still carries on being a great brother. I learn things from him that I would never have thought of. He has inspired my mum to do a university course in nursing to become a learning disabilities nurse.

The name Stephen means ‘overcomer’ which totally relates to Stephen. On a daily basis there are so many things he has to overcome and he does; he is a soldier. Stephen has special needs, but I take out the ‘needs’ and just call him special. Love him lots.