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Raising the Voices of Siblings…Paul Trudel 

If you have ever been to an event sponsored by our Family Support Council, or put on by ‘Bridging The Horizons’, it is likely that you have seen or met Derek Trudel. Derek is 32 years old and experiences a developmental disability. Typically, his older brother Paul, who is 36, brings him and spends time with him at these events.

While reflecting on his upbringing, Paul said it was a very different lifestyle than friends and peers who didn’t grow up with a sibling who experiences a disability. He explained that this is because of the type of support Derek needs daily, the doctor’s appointments, and the fear that people would mistreat Derek because of his disability. Another way their upbringing was different was that while they went to a public school together for some years, Derek went to a school for people with disabilities during his high school years. 

Having a sibling who experiences a disability has impacted the way Paul views the world and people around him. “My brother has allowed me to understand people who may be going through challenges and accept them. Derek taught me at an early age not to take things for granted such as hockey and other activities I have been a part of.”

Hockey has been a major part of Paul’s life throughout high school, college, and even today! “When I was in school, Derek was basically the celebrity of the hockey team. All of my teammates loved him and they even got him a jersey,” Paul said. He added that Derek has enjoyed going to many of Paul’s sports games throughout the years. 

Other activities the brothers enjoy together include going out to eat, watching bands play, and spending time at Paul’s house. Paul also takes his brother to haircut appointments and other places he needs to go. 

The Trudel family is tight-knit and they spend time together regularly. The family has also been closely connected to our area agency for many years. In fact, Derek and Paul’s mom Anita is currently on our Family Support Council and worked at our area agency for many years. 

Paul said the connection he shares with his brother is unique and different from the connection many siblings share, and even the connection either of them share with their parents. “At some times, Derek has struggled with acting out in different situations since he is non-verbal. He has never really acted up with me but he did more often with our parents. In some cases I handle situations in a different way and he responds differently,” he said. 

Paul said that he is a protector for his brother and he will continue to be for years to come. “Overall, having him as my brother has impacted my outlook on life and ways I have lived my life,” he said.  

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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