Bringing Awareness To Autism
Minerva Barrera said she's been attending support groups for parents of autistic children for about a year. Her four-year-old son was diagnosed with the neurological disability when he was two.
Barrera said the day-to-day routine of living with her autistic child Andreas is "very hard". He doesn't communicate with others and often does not respond to her. She added the diagnosis also brought certain gifts to her life.
"You celebrate every little tiny progress that they make. My mom says all the time, 'why do we get so happy that he does this or does that? If I had six kids and they all did that!' Well, yeah, but it's hard for him to accomplish," Barrera said.
Barrera regularly meets with other parents of autistic children in support groups such as Bebo's Angels. She said they help her learn tips to deal with daily life challenges.
"I can't guess what's wrong with him or what he wants because he doesn't point. So the majority of the time, he's going to be crying and by the time I guess what happened, it already passed in an hour or two or he wakes up in the middle of the night crying," she said.
Barrera said raising awareness of autism in our community helps others understand what is happening in certain social situations.
"You don't know or you don't sympathize with people who have that. You might go to the movies and see a child cry and think, 'oh, it's a spoiled kid.' But have you stopped and think that maybe he has something, maybe he doesn't show it?" Barrera said.
Kathia Damiron, a Mission doctor, is also the parent of a 14-year-old autistic son. She agreed raising awareness with the public is crucial to helping the community understand those with autism.
"I think there's a lot that can be done in our community and I think that the press is the right way to promote and express those needs," she said.
Damiron said treatments for autism are improving. While there is no current cure for the condition, she still has hope.
"I think research is happening as we speak and it's been happening for many years and I think everyday something else is discovered that gets us closer to finding a cure."
Damiron added the internet is a great resource for researching autism. She believes more research could eventually lead to a cure.
Starting Monday, June 26th CHANNEL 5 NEWS will bring you our "Heart Of The Valley" series called "The Invisible: Autism and Special Needs".