When the Northeast Arc decided they wanted to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month by hosting an essay contest for teenagers who have siblings with Autism, we turned to the Salem News to see if they would help to promote it. They immediately said yes and not only promoted the contest but ran the winning essays in the paper.
Here’s the first place essay titled, “My Sunshine” by Ashley McKean, 17, of Melrose, Massachusetts;
When my dad died three years ago, it was like the world had stopped spinning. All I could think about, all day and all night, was how are my mom and brother going to be okay? Aside from the worry over what this was doing to my brother, who was my dad’s best friend, came along with the excruciating worry of something happening to one of them also. Through the worry, I remembered something, though. After my dad’s accident, I was in hysterics. I went to my brother and hugged him so tight, I refused to let go. I just screamed and cried, and through all this, my brother, who is extremely sensitive to stress, to loud noises, who cannot even speak, put his arms around me and hugged me back. My brother who everyone deemed could not feel emotion, could not understand love or happiness or sadness, or anything really, proved them wrong. In the midst of the hardest moment of my life, I wasn’t the one trying to help my brother, he was the one who was there to help me. The boy the world claimed would never know the difference between good and bad, love and hate, or anything at all really. Every day he just proves the world wrong with his unconditional love that comes so naturally from his heart. So when I worry about losing my sunshine, my brother, I remember that he is stronger than anyone thinks, he is more than what you think.
Read the Salem News article with all of the winning essays here: