Andrea Pereyra has joined the American Autism Association as a Community Outreach Intern. She is a 20-year-old student at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology and Philosophy. She aspires to go to graduate school for research in the psychological field, and to someday create a better understanding of the underlying causes and developmental impacts of autism.

Andrea became interested in autism when working at a children’s toy store with educational and developmental toys, where several parents of children with autism would frequent. Through talking to these parents about daily routines and obstacles, she realized how misunderstood and underserved the autistic community is. Andrea shared her belief that, “Many do not understand the hardships and prejudice that individuals with special needs face everyday.” More specifically, Andrea hopes to help in reaching the American Autism Association’s goal to reduce the stigma associated with autism and help spread awareness and understanding of how autism works and affects people.

Ever since she was young, Andrea was taught that life is about “making yourself better.” Go to school, get good grades, get higher education and land a job where you can make a lot of money and support a family. Somewhere along the way, find someone you love to share your life with. But no, Andrea did not only want to focus on herself. Someone once told her “make the world better”. This is exactly what Andrea wants to do: make the world better, impacting enough lives to make her presence an agent of change.

Being a parent to a child with autism is one of the hardest things someone can do. Special needs parents have to worry about the tiniest things, like misplacing a toy by an inch or food being cut too small; to the major things, like wandering off, bullying, and developmental delays. Andrea applied to the American Autism Association because of our “direct relationship with these families”. Andrea hopes to aid the daily struggles and make life just a little easier for the parents who give so much and would do anything to help their child. She believes that, “These children deserve the best resources, no matter where they are, how severely impacted they are, or even any financial struggles a family may be going through.” Andrea wanted to be a part of the positive impact that the American Autism Association makes within the autism community.

We’re happy to announce that throughout the internship period, we’ve seen Andrea’s passion for change grow. Parents and callers of our Autism Help Hotline have complimented her openness and the level of support she has to offer. We love having hard working, passionate interns like Andrea join our team because together, we can make a difference.

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