I can confidently say that the summer of 2015 was one of the best I’ve ever had. During my first summer in Miami, I had the opportunity to intern in American Autism Association as a community outreach intern.

I believe that every chance life gives you, you acquire knowledge and experience. My change to intern with the American Autism Association gave me just that. At the beginning of my internship, I had no idea of what autism really was and how it’s symptoms presented. Upon working for the Autism Help Hotline, I was trained in depth and found myself shocked and the number of families calling in to seek assistance. Working with families here in the United Sates during that encouraged me to make my best effort and find them the best resources I could possibly provide. I was shocked at what the families and children had been through. By working here, I learned that I was truly making a difference with the American Autism Association.

American-Autism-Association-Art-for-Autism-Jenny-sagastume

The Summer 2015 Interns

After being part of the awesome team of interns during that summer, it made me realize that I wanted to apply what I learned in my country, Guatemala. Going back to my country at the end of last summer with this experience and knowledge of autism I wanted to push myself farther to make a difference. Every time people ask me what autism is, I have the chance to provide them all the information I know about it and help them with anything they need, continuing the American Autism Association’s mission of awareness and advocacy.

I also began looking to find any foundation in Guatemala that works with individuals with autism because I had never heard of one before. I soon found only one that helps children in spectrum and Down syndrome. One of my goals at the beginning of 2016 was to volunteer in this foundation, so I can apply what I learned from the previous summer. And I did!

With that experience, I knew I had to come back to the American Autism Association to continue my growth as an advocate. I want to learn more about autism, while taking action in the Miami community to spread awareness. This July, I’ll be hosting and leading a fitness Latin dance class to families and supporters in the Miami region to raise awareness. My passion is dancing, so what a better way to apply it in dance and music therapy with children in spectrum? I am so happy to be part of the American Autism Association team again and play my part in helping the autism community.

When I go back to my country I want to not only want to continue volunteering, but make it my goal to help break down the boundaries people face because of immense poverty to get them the resources for autism that they need. Autism is not a defect, is an extraordinary thing that makes people unique in their own way and I want to highlight that in my community!

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