BRATTLEBORO -- Families with children who have developmental disabilities share many of the same joys, frustrations and disappointments as those experienced by families whose children are not developmentally disabled.

But there are also specific experiences that families with developmentally disabled children go through.

On Saturday, April 5, at 10:30 a.m. at the Brooks Memorial Library The Brattleboro Union High School Special Connections group is showing the film, "The Other Sister," which tells the story of a family with a developmentally disabled daughter.

The film is being shown in recognition of Autism Awareness Month.

Prudence Baird, the parent advisor to Special Connections, said the film does a good job of showing the relationships, struggles and celebrations that develop among family members as a developmentally disabled child grows up and gains independence.

A discussion will be held after the film.

"The film is about all three daughters in the family, and what they go through as one of the sisters is maturing," Baird said. "Everyone in the family has expectations and it does a good job of showing what it is like to have one child with a developmental disability and how that affects everyone in the family."

Special Connections was started this school year by Baird's son, Casey Metcalfe, who has autism.


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The group was started to bring together developmentally disabled BUHS students and their peers to discuss issues and advocate for better inclusion at school events and during the school day.

While stories about autism, and about children with autism, are discussed during Autism Awareness Month, Baird said it is important to recognize the specific challenges that family members face.

Specifically, she said, as children with developmental disabilities grow up and set out to establish their own lives, the family members are faced with fears and uncertainties that are specific to their experience.

When any child is in school there is a support system and a routine in place.

Parents are anxious about their children leaving after high school, and having a child with a developmental disability raises another set of concerns and fears.

Baird said "The Other Sister" raises those issues and is a good starting point for having a broader discussion about the issue.

"It's a very hard time for any parent," Baird said. "Every parent has hopes and expectations for their children and sometimes things don't work out. That is part of growing up and part of allowing your child to grow into the person who they will eventually become."

The film is free and will be shown in the library community room.

For more information call 254-8469.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.