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Raising the Voices of Siblings…Ryan Breton 

Earlier this month, Connor Breton graduated from Northern Essex Community College and is looking to pursue a career where he can utilize his skills in technology and working with computers. Connor’s family, which includes his parents and older brother Ryan, attended the ceremony to celebrate his accomplishment. 

Ryan and Connor are both in their 20s and have had a close bond throughout their lives. Ryan said, “When you are the older sibling, there is often the feeling that you need to be a role model and I felt that was especially important growing up with a younger sibling with autism.” He noted that throughout his life, Ryan has worried about Connor being mistreated by others and not being accepted because he has special needs – something that Ryan still worries about.  

Having Connor as a brother has impacted the way Ryan views other people and the world. “I believe that it has made me more compassionate and aware. It is sometimes easy to judge other people without knowing their story – but when someone in your family has special needs, you become hyper-aware of how people may view them,” Ryan said. 

Reflecting on his childhood, Ryan said his family never let the fact that Connor has autism change the family or limit what they could all do together. “When we were kids, I always really enjoyed going out to eat, but Connor didn’t. So what our family would do is each parent would bring us separately and if Connor wanted to leave, that would be possible and I would be able to stay,” Ryan said. 

An aspect of their childhood that Ryan enjoyed was when they would be attending the same school as each other. He highlighted that throughout middle and high school, Connor became more social with other kids and became popular which was great to see. “I think there was great support for him throughout school. I think we are fortunate to live in a part of America with so much support for people with special needs – whether they are in school or adults,” Ryan said while recognizing that different parts of our nation may not have the same support available.

He said it is important for all schools to educate people with special needs about the different paths they can take after they graduate – whether that means finding a job that matches one’s skill set, or continuing one’s education after high school.

Ryan said that as a TV meteorologist, he has gotten some opportunities to participate in community service activities such as walks, charity runs, and golf tournaments. These activities are important to Ryan because it allows him to support a variety of causes – whether they have to do with autism or any other important topic. 

One topic that Ryan and Connor both enjoy discussing is sports. “He loves just about all sports and has an unbelievable mind for statistics and records of teams and players. We will text about just about any sport whether it is hockey, football, basketball or any others,” Ryan said. He said that while his family shares a close bond, the bond between siblings is unique because Connor may view his older brother as more of an equal than he would about his parents and they grew up together, and at some points during their childhood attended the same school.

  

While at first, some people may think about the ways that Ryan has supported his brother, Ryan noted that Connor has supported him in many ways as well. “When I went to college at Penn State, he instantly became a fan of all Penn State sports teams. He has been there for me during every milestone of my life,” Ryan said. 

It is clear that Ryan will continue to advocate for important causes, and both brothers will continue to be there for each other throughout their lives. 

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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