The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) in October kicks off a series of public forums around the country to assess the needs of Americans with disabilities.

The events are intended to help form a five-year strategic plan to be announced in the spring of 2011.

At "listening sessions" planned for Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas, Detroit and Denver, the ADD is inviting participants to speak about how to better support Americans with disabilities in childhood, adulthood, and during aging, as well as how to assist families, caregivers and professionals.

A limited number of people will be able to participate. Those interested are asked to respond via email or phone to a series of questions posted on the ADD website.

While the ADD has outlined important issues facing Americans with disabilities, I can't help but notice the absence of any specific mention of siblings.

The website notes that, "Over 75% of people with I/DD live with families, often with aging parents." Any adult sibling knows what follows that sentence in practice - that as those parents age and pass away, responsibility passes to us.

Adult siblings must be included in planning our brothers' and sisters' futures. We need to be recognized as the resources and advocates that we are so that we are part of ongoing discussions about things like employment, housing, health, and recreation for our brothers and sisters.

This series offers a great opportunity to bring national attention to the role of adult brothers and sisters, and I encourage adult siblings to respond to the ADD call for information.

The public forums are scheduled as follows:
Oct. 18 Philadelphia
Nov. 8 Orlando
Nov. 15 Dallas
Dec. 2 Detroit
Dec. 6 Denver

For more information about this initiative and to add your voice, visit the Administration on Developmental Disabilities website

The Administration on Developmental Disabilities is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and works to improve and increase services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

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