The Siblings of Autism (SOA) and the Autism Society of America (ASA) have announced the winners of the first annual Siblings of Autism Scholarship Contest—an important program dedicated to supporting the siblings of individuals on the autism spectrum through educational scholarships.

Many people who are not impacted by autism fail to realize how expensive it is for a family to raise a child on the autism spectrum. Often as a family’s limited income must be used to obtain the needed services and support for the family member with autism, the other children in the household are directly affected. The impacts may include lack of funds for summer camps, college tuition, or vocational training. Siblings of Autism distributes scholarships for education and other defined needs for those that have a sibling on the spectrum.

Working together, the Siblings of Autism and the Autism Society have formed a partnership to start supporting the needs of siblings of those living with autism. The first effort Siblings of Autism has undertaken is a contest where siblings of those living with autism were encouraged to develop a short video that describes what they perceive as their gifts of autism and discusses how the experience has had a positive impact on them. A panel of volunteers reviewed the videos and determine which submissions best described the gifts of autism. The purpose of this effort is to help siblings who have demonstrated that they are able to clearly see the positive gifts that are the direct result of living with an individual on the autism spectrum. Seven scholarships were awarded as follows: One $10,000, one $5,000, and five $1,000 scholarships and can be used for post-secondary education opportunities, other educational pursuits, or camps. For the purpose of this effort, a sibling who was considered for a scholarship must have at least one brother or one sister who lives with autism. Decisions on scholarship winners were announced to winning recipients in late 2016.

Siblings of Autism is its own organization, founded by Jason Cherry, and is dedicated to supporting the siblings of individuals on the autism spectrum through educational scholarships, respite funds, and outreach programs. “Autism served as a blessing in disguise in my life,” said Cherry. “Through all of the challenges and hardships, I learned to find the humor in difficult times. I developed compassion, patience, and an unyielding ability to persevere. These are my gifts of autism.”

A special “Siblings Sundays” social media mini-series will commence on Sunday January 22, 2017 and will feature each winner in a spotlight where their video submission for this scholarship contest will be showcased. This weekly winner spotlight will be live on ASA’s Facebook page. The series will conclude on April 10, 2017 – National Siblings Day – also, the same day the 2017 Siblings of Autism Scholarship Contest begins.

2017 Scholarship Winners/Videos Submissions
Scholarship
Amount
      Winner                                                                       Winner Video Submission
$10,000      Aileen Zhu – Fair Lawn, New Jersey                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1ldpYaWy4U
$ 5,000       Brianna Brodeur – Lake Zurich, Illinois                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eDWQvSmJM4
$ 1,000      Aliah Eichelberger – Santa Barbara, California     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXwQu4C4pW8
$ 1,000      Grace Arnwine – Benicia, California                       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o1s6wdanUo
$ 1,000      Moi Stern – Bal Harbour, Florida                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0U8L4ohg48
$ 1,000      Kelsey Pease – Brunswick, Ohio                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO8Ii2KNt3g
$ 1,000      Ryley Pease – Brunswick, Ohio                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lK1s_Vqgco

About Siblings of Autism
Siblings of Autism (SOA) is dedicated to supporting the siblings of individuals on the autism spectrum through scholarships, respite funds, and outreach programs. Jason Cherry, founder of Siblings of Autism, recognizes the powerful impact of growing up with a sibling on the autism spectrum. Jason’s brother, Matthew, was adopted from a Russian orphanage in 1993 just before Jason’s birth. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome, Matthew had a substantial impact on Jason and his sister’s childhood. The extensive involvement and funding required by the family for services and support for Matthew over two decades directly influenced Jason and contributed to his compassion for kids on the autism spectrum and their siblings. As a direct result of the powerful and challenging experiences in his home, Jason has developed into a true leader and is working to become a voice for all siblings of individuals with autism.

About Autism Society of America
The Autism Society of America (ASA), the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. The Autism Society has served as the fiscal and administrative agent for this effort as well as a promotional supporter.

#SiblingSundays #AutismSociety

For more information, please contact Autism Society Director of Internal Initiatives, Rose Jochum at 301-657-0881 ext. 9009 or rjochum@autism-society.org.