Changing the Dynamic: how siblings conquer disabilities together

Emily Colen '23, Staff Writer

Featured left to right, CJ Schervish ’24 and Ella Schervish take a dip in the pool an enjoy each other’s company. Photo courtesy of the Schervishs.

In every family setting, sibling dynamics can differ. Most notably, those who have a sibling with a disability have the special ability to look past their siblings’ diagnosis and acknowledge their achievements rather than their limitations. Whether it is driving them to and from school, or cheering them on at their Unified Basketball games, the expression of a deeper connection comes into play when giving the sibling the special yet simple gift of normalcy.

Each lesson that is learned from growing up with a sibling with a disability can flourish qualities among siblings such as the ability to be compassionate, protective, caring and patient among one another.

Expressions of compassion play a key role within the family unit as well as the relationship between Trinity McKenzie ’24 and her brother Titan McKenzie.

“My dad raised us to include everyone,” McKenzie said. “We don’t treat anyone differently just because he [Titan] has autism, one’s the youngest, one’s the oldest, or one’s the only girl, we all treat each other equally and I think that is really great.”

In addition, Trinity McKenzie ’24 uses her brother, Titan, to shed light on the importance of getting to know individuals’ true selves as it might change a person’s life for the better.

“You might not know someone so they don’t seem approachable or whatnot but when you really get to know Titan, he is the funniest person you could probably meet,” McKenzie said.

Similarly, CJ Schervish ’24, helps his younger sister, Allie Shervish, to dispel preconceived notions about individuals who have autism. In addition to this, he also enjoys quality time with Allie, whether that is through cooking, boating or swimming.

“There’s definitely many different ways of calculating being smart and people with autism don’t fall under the typical getting A’s in school or being street smart,” Schervish said. “People with autism definitely have a different kind of smart and it’s whatever their minds are fixated on, so for Allie, she really likes computers and really knows how to work them.”

Parent of CJ and Allie Schervish, Melissa Schervish, describes this unique siblings’ relationship as a journey of learning and accepting differentialities.

Dylan Chunn ’26 (left) and Jake Chunn ’23 (right) pose for a photo while waiting in line in New York in front of the Rockefeller Plaza. Photo courtesy of the Chunns.

“It’s very important and they bond just on different levels,” Schervish said. “And maybe deeper or differently than others but there’s still a very deep connection.”

Sharing a brotherly bond in and outside of the walls of South, Jake Chunn ’23 and Dylan Chunn ’26 enjoy the aspects of spending quality time together.

“It’s a brotherly bond, I don’t necessarily treat him differently, just because I grew up with him my whole life and nothing is different, just normal brothers I would say,” Chunn said. “I enjoy driving him to and from school, I just think that is fun, or sometimes whenever my parents go out, Dylan and I will go out to eat.”

In a final statement, Melissa Schervish describes her happiness in the ability for disability awareness to be advocated for.

“I love that there is just an awareness or a continuing to spread awareness of special needs, the importance of family life, and acceptance,” Schervish said. “I think it’s a beautiful thing.”