An essay contest sponsored by Northeast Arc is shining a light on the brothers and sisters of kids growing up with autism.

In the contest, siblings ages 14 to 20 are encouraged to write about their perspectives and their experiences.

“We wanted to give the siblings a voice, and not just making everything bright and cheery,” said Susan Gilroy, director of the Autism Support Center at Northeast Arc. “But we wanted to hear what their struggles were, what their successes are and what they’ve learned along the way with their siblings.”

A developmental disorder, autism affects the way a person communicates and interacts with others. It can range in severity, but Gilroy explained that people with autism typically face social challenges in their daily lives.

For a sibling of someone with autism, that can mean embarrassment at school, or struggles or feelings of neglect at home.

“Siblings are often lost in the daily life of the family when the family is coping with an autism diagnosis,” said Gilroy. “We just want to be sensitive to them.”

Brothers and sisters play important roles in the lives of people with autism.

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