Douglas’ Chiricahua Community Health Center promotes Autism Awareness


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By Bruce Whetten bruce.whetten@myheraldreview.com

Monica Zavalza who works with children with autism at Sarah Marley Elementary, spoke at the event about her experiences with her autistic student, Scarlette Vigueria. Bruce Whetten Herald/Review

 

DOUGLAS − April was designated Autism Awareness Month. 

In an effort to bring continued awareness to autism, Chiricahua Community Health Centers Inc. in Douglas recently hosted an Autism Awareness Walk at the 10th Street Park. 

This year was the second consecutive year CCHCI hosted this event. Its aim was to raise awareness and support for individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) within the Douglas community. 

The Autism Awareness Walk featured a community walk, informational booths, speeches and various activities designed to bring awareness about autism spectrum disorder, 

“Today we are here with a purpose to raise awareness about autism and to promote acceptance and inclusion into our community,” Angelica Lopez, pediatric community engagement specialist for CCHCI said. “Let’s learn together and make our community a more inclusive place not just during the month of April but every single day.” 

Maximiliano Franco, who spoke at last year’s event, was back again this year. 

“I am 10-years old, and I have autism,” he said. “In case you didn’t know, autism means we process information differently than others. I want you all to know how much it means to me seeing you here today.” 

Franco thanked CCHCI for hosting the event as his mom Alejandra for loving him and protecting him. 

Jesus Rubio, an instructional aide at Sarah Marley Elementary School in Douglas, said he has spent much of his career working with individuals with developmental disabilities. 

“My greatest teacher of all though has been my son who is now 30-years old,” he said. “He was born three months premature. At six months he did not have very good odds of living. He proved everybody wrong.” 

Rubio says his son has shown him and his family how to become better people as well. 

“He is where he is today because of the great team that surrounded him, his family, the schools and the medical teams,” he said. “Without getting those teams to work together he would not be where he is today. “Our goal is for all children with autism and other disabilities is to get those teams to start talking to each other and start saying ‘our goal is the same, our goal is the success of this child.’” 

Monica Zavalza who also works with children with autism at Sarah Marley, spoke at the event about her experiences with her autistic student, Scarlette Vigueria. 

“I have more than 15 years of experience as a teacher, three of them as a first-grade teacher in the Douglas Unified School District,” she said. “This year in particular I have an amazing girl as my student from whom I have learned a lot.” 

Chiricahua Community Health Center in Douglas held an Autism Awareness Walk in Douglas earlier this month in an effort to bring awareness to the disease. Bruce Whetten Herald/Review

Zavalza said it is her responsibility to help create a good, learning environment. 

“Because of the increase of autistic students in our classrooms it is extremely important for us teachers in constant professional development, to learn and know more and be able to help their learning.” 

Zavalza said the student she is talking about today is 90% of the time in the classroom learning under the same schedule as the rest of the classroom. 

“There needs to be a lot more empathy on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do,” she said. 

Lopez said people from all walks of life joined CCHCI to spread awareness and support its mission of Health for All. 

“Together, we strive for inclusivity and understanding for individuals with autism,” she said. 

 

Full Article at Sierra Vista Herald  

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