This year’s reception at the Massachusetts State House recognized the importance of ending bias and stigma against people with I/DD that are barriers to their employment, independence, and equality, and the ways in which these biases are also reflected in the treatment of their direct support providers. This event was hosted by The Arc of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. The MSSN was a proud co-sponsor of the event and was glad to be in attendance!
Facilitating a sibling support group may be an effective way for mental health trainees to gain skills and confidence in delivering family-centered care. Mental health training programs aiming to imbue trainees with the importance of family-centered care may consider creating opportunities for trainees to facilitate sibling support groups.
The MSSN has produced a summary brief on current research trends that affect siblings of people with disabilities. Please read State of Siblings of People with Disabilities to learn how research in the field informs the work of the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network.
The work of the MSSN focuses on supporting siblings of people with disabilities. At any age, being a sibling can be challenging — and this is especially true for young children who are still learning to navigate the world and their place in it, as well as their own complex emotions.
MSSN Executive Director, Emily Rubin, and Board Co-President, Hillary Dunn Stansiz, participated in the Cooperative for Human Services’ event in honor of National Sibling Day. Emily moderated the panel discussion about sibling experiences, challenges, and opportunities to connect individuals with disabilities to our communities.
The MSSN was honored to co-sponsor the 41st Annual Legislative Reception on March 6, 2019 at the State House! The Arc of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council hosted this inspiring event. People with disabilities, family members, advocates, state agency heads and their staff, and legislators gathered to discuss legislative priorities.
The MSSN shared information about sibling issues, made great connections and participated in meaningful conversations. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Click here for more information about this inspiring day!
Meet Zach Rossetti! Zach joined the MSSN Board in June 2017 and was named Co-President in February of 2019. As an Associate Professor of Special Education in Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Zach teaches undergraduate and graduate students who will become general education teachers, special education teachers, and related service providers. He conducts research on sibling roles and relationships, family engagement in special education, and friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, he contributes to BU Wheelock’s service mission of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.
By Cynthia Haddad
Originally published by: Special Needs Financial Planning LLC, a specialty practice to Shepherd Financial Partners
For my brother Ron, it has always been about his birthday. Every summer of my adult life, the phone calls would begin with “Are you getting ready for my birthday?”. It would be Ron calling, giddy with excitement, wanting to talk about the plans for his upcoming birthday. The thing is, his birthday is on January 6th.
Meet Hillary Dunn Stanisz! She has served on the MSSN Board of Directors since 2013. Hillary has an older brother with Angelman Syndrome, and as a result of her experience, she has devoted her career to assisting individuals with disabilities and their families. As an attorney at the Disability Law Center, Inc., she represents individuals with disabilities in matters involving special education, abuse and neglect, and securing appropriate community supports and services from adult human service agencies.
Hillary also serves on the Steering Committee of The Arc of Massachusetts and as a Council Member on the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. In addition, she enjoys mentoring siblings in law school about careers in the disability arena.
5 Questions with Hillary:
1. What does the work of the MSSN mean to you?
The MSSN means many things to me, but two big ones are community and progress.
Community in that adult siblings like me don’t often have friends or networks – a community – of fellow adult siblings with similar experiences, victories, challenges and concerns. It can be lonely for us. I have met amazing adult siblings through the MSSN who are now friends and part of my network. The MSSN has created, and continues to work to create, space for this “community” to grow for adult siblings.
Progress in that the MSSN is raising awareness about sibling experiences and issues across the life span and providing education to adult siblings on important future planning topics. After all, siblings most often have the longest relationship with their brother/sister with a disability. In the disability community, “family” or “family support” cannot continue to mean only “parent” or “parent support,” and the MSSN is leading the progress of changing this with service providers, state agencies, parents, and more.
2. How did you become involved with the MSSN?
Working in the disability community, I was aware of the start of the MSSN and knew one of the founders. Once I was a bit settled in my legal career, I began exploring volunteer opportunities and Boards that I felt I could help with and that would be meaningful for me. The MSSN was a natural fit.
3. What do you think is the biggest challenge that the MSSN faces?
Sustaining funding and building the organization from a financial standpoint.
4. What has been the MSSN’s biggest success?
The MSSN is a true grassroots organization – a volunteer board doing all the work itself. In a very short time, the MSSN, to the immense credit of Emily Rubin, has grown to have its first paid employee and be awarded a prestigious grant.
5. What mantra do you live by?
Work hard, family first, and never forget to laugh along the way.
For more information on the MSSN, contact us here.