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Raising the Voices of Siblings…Aaron Duffy

Aaron Duffy and her sister Devon have been close throughout their entire lives. For the past 17 years, Aaron has been a Home Care Provider (HCP) for her sister who has a rare genetic condition that impacts her speech, processing, and balance on a daily basis. 

“Because Devon and I are so close to each other, and we are two years apart in age – it made sense that I would someday become her HCP. I got my Bachelor’s degree in social work and psychology and I am sure that having Devon as my sister helped mold this interest,” Aaron said. She said by the time she graduated college, she was familiar with working with people of all abilities and worked for LifeShare (a vendor agency) helping with vocational job searching and eventually oversaw a day program until becoming a HCP. 

“One thing about living with your sister is that we can connect about stuff from our childhood such as watching Disney movies, the songs we listened to as kids, and other things we did as a family. She has a very good long-term memory. It is special to me because nobody else in our household can share those experiences except for us,” she added. Aaron and Devon also live with Aaron’s husband and their daughter and explained that Aaron’s daughter and Devon share “somewhat of a sister bond which is a neat experience.” Reflecting on their childhood, Aaron explained that Devon was supported within the community thanks to advocacy efforts from their parents and others in the community. “One thing our parents created was ‘Circle of Friends’ which would bring together kids from our school to talk about ways to include her both in the classroom, and in the community,” Aaron said. She noted playing baseball and helping out with the Special Olympics were great ways for her sister to get out in the community when they were kids. 

[Photo of Aaron’s daughter, Aaron, Aaron’s husband, and Devon]

While Aaron looks back fondly on those memories – she explains the most difficult part of growing up was her sister being in the hospital and having to attend doctor’s appointments so often. “Dealing with life and death situations at such a young age helped me grow a greater appreciation for life at a young age. There were some times when my parents would be in the hospital for weeks on end,” Aaron said. Aaron and Devon’s brother Ryan passed away ten years ago. He was nonverbal, blind, and in a wheelchair. 

“I remember neighbors and others asking me what it was like to have siblings who experience a disability. As an adult you may view people who have a disability as different, but when you are a kid – that is just what you know and you don’t think about them any differently,” Aaron said. She added that Devon is social, outgoing, caring when it comes to the feelings of others, and loves unconditionally – and enjoys bowling, going to restaurants, and spending time with her close-knit family. 

Years ago, Aaron expanded her advocacy efforts by participating in the New Hampshire Leadership Series through the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. The series brings together people who experience a disability themselves, loved ones, people who work with people who experience a disability, and others in the community to learn, lead, and create change throughout our state and beyond. She said Leadership was a great opportunity for those who would like to learn more about disability, and learn how to become a leader in their community. 

If you or someone you know is the sibling of someone with a disability – and would like to be interviewed and featured in a future “Raising the Voices of Siblings” story, reach out to Colby Dudal at cdudal@communitycrossroadsnh.org.  

 

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