Mia Goleniowska is 12 and has a younger sister Natty, 9, who has Down’s syndrome. She is a sibling carer. It is important to note that in many ways they are typical siblings, and this comes across in the bright, beautiful, positive book that Mia helped her Mum create for other children.
Tell us about your family
I live with Mum and Dad, Natty and our two Chihuahuas Pippin and Tim. Natty chose Tim and I chose Pippin. We have an older half brother called Rob who says his role in life is to annoy me. We have lots of laughs.
What’s special about you?
I am a special needs sister. I think that makes me more sensitive to other people’s feelings.
What do you enjoy doing?
One of my favourite things to do is horse riding. I love jumping and cantering and grooming the horses. It takes my mind off school and other things. At school I’m the record holder for rowing the furthest distance in 4 minutes! I also enjoy making crafts and painting at home.
What are you good at?
I am very good at understanding people when they are stuck in life. I like helping my friends.
Tell us about your sister
My sister is special because she is a professional clown…! No, I’m joking! Natty does have DS (Down’s syndrome which gave her an extra chromosome (cool!) and made her take a bit longer to understand things and speak. Natty loves modeling and acting (or just showing off) and swimming. We think she’s going to be in the Special Olympics when she’s older. I tried modeling but found it a bit boring to be honest. She’s also great at burping on demand which makes everyone laugh!
We do lots of things together too, like baking biscuits or watching X Factor. We are a good team.
Do you and your sister need time away from each other sometimes?
Yes we do because we sometimes get on each others’ nerves and we hiss at each other like cats and that annoys Mum and Dad.
It’s helpful to have sleepovers with friends or Grandma or our Godmum. I also chat to other special needs siblings on the phone sometimes or write to them, especially Luke, Lilia and Noah. Sometimes Natty is tiring because she asks me to help her or wait for her.
Tell us about your book.
My book is called I Love You Natty and it’s to help other brothers and sisters of children with special needs to understand what Down’s syndrome is. Mums and Dads love it too especially when they have a new baby.
How do you want the book to make others feel?
I want people to relate to me and understand that DS is nothing to be afraid of and see that our family is like everyone else’s.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I would change TV programmes so that in every one there is a person with special needs or a disability. Right now they seem hidden away.
I’d also like all buildings to be made out of gummy bears.
What else would you like people to know?
I’ve been offended quite a few times by other people and one thing I want to get across is that people use Down’s syndrome as an insult which is wrong. They don’t know what it means and it isn’t a bad thing.
My sister Natty is a complete individual, on-her-own, little Miss Independent.
MISS INDEPENDENT (this was written with lots of sun rays all around it)
Are you a sibling carer? What would you like to see on Carers Club and please get in touch if you would like to share your story.