One plus to Sam’s summer CRP program is that I’m catching up on a lot of reading! Last week, I had a chance to read Am I Invisible? by Samuel De La Cerda. It’s the story of ten-year-old twin brothers, one of whom has Down syndrome.
What’s cool about this book? It’s written by one of the boys! Samuel, the author, has the typical forty-six chromosomes, but his twin brother, Elijah, has forty-seven.
What else is cool about this book? It’s not actually about Elijah—not all that much, anyway. Certainly, we see a lot of books about people with Down syndrome, written by people who do not have Down syndrome. And some are very well done, while others could use a little more refining (or a trip back to the drawing board).
But this book takes a different approach: This book is Samuel, brother of Elijah, talking about how he feels as Elijah’s brother. He doesn’t try to tell us about Elijah’s experience; he tells us about his experience. It’s a heartfelt story about how much Samuel loves and wants to protect his brother…but how at the same time, he feels invisible next to his brother, who gets a lot of attention because he has Down syndrome.
This hit close to home for me because I have often felt a pang for Theo, as our Sam’s brother. Our Sam gets a ton of attention from people, partly because he has Down syndrome and partly because he’s such a gregarious, smiley, open-hearted little boy. He just naturally draws people to him.
Theo, on the other hand, is more serious. And he has plenty of people who absolutely adore him, but it’s a little different—people love him when they get to know him, whereas people seem immediately drawn to Sam. So I have said before that I sometimes feel a bit sorry for Theo, as his little brother unintentionally grabs the spotlight quite a lot. I’ve wondered if he must feel invisible.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a common feeling among siblings of children with disabilities—a struggle between feeling invisible and feeling great love for their sibling. Certainly, Theo adores Sam—in fact, he is Sam’s biggest fan of all. But I suspect he, too, feels a little bit invisible at times.
I’m glad Samuel De La Cerda took the time to write Am I Invisible? I think it’s a good way to remind people not to forget about the siblings who may stand a bit in shadow with regard to their brother or sister with a disability.
If you’re local to the San Francisco Bay Area, here’s something neat: You can attend a reading of Am I Invisible? and meet young Samuel De La Cerda on Thursday, August 4th, at 7pm. It’s being held at the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area office. You just need to reserve a spot, as space is limited. Contact the Connection at (925) 362-8660 or email@example.com if you’re interested in going. If we weren’t going to be on vacation that week, I’d certainly be attending to meet Samuel and tell him what a great job I think he did with the book!
And if you’re interested in buying a copy of the book for yourself, it’s available at the Diamond Learning Center website (click here).