West Palm Beach couple helps Hispanic families with autism after finding few resources available
Tom Kastinotis, NewsChannel 5
10:58 AM, Nov 6, 2013
7:05 PM, Nov 6, 2013
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla - "Nico, give me your hand," Liliana Castellanos calls out to her five-year-old son as he runs in their backyard.
When little Nicholas was diagnosed with autism three years ago, his parents quickly discovered something troubling in their search for answers.
"There's not a lot of information if you're a Hispanic family who doesn't know a lot of English. There's not a lot of information out there when it comes to autism," said Pedro Castellanos, Nicholas's father.
So while raising Nicholas and his older sister Victoria, Pedro and Liliana began forming their own group: Hispanic Families Together.
"There are support groups out there, but not in Spanish. We are the only one," said Liliana.
They try to meet once a month, and bring in speakers that talk about therapies and community resources.
They also found in the Hispanic community there's not just a language barrier when it comes to treating a child with autism, there's also a cultural barrier.
"For the Hispanic community it's like hard to believe this is happening to their child," said Liliana.
"For some reason it's an issue with a lot of the Hispanic community; they don't want to accept the fact this is happening," said Pedro.
So Pedro and Liliana use the experience they've gained with their son to guide the families.
"We see a lot of crying, things like that," said Pedro.
"How can we help their child," said Liliana.
They stress the importance of starting therapy early, as they did with their son. With the therapy, they've noticed Nicholas is improving his ability to communicate.
Their message to other parents of children with autism is universal, regardless of language or culture.
"Don't lose hope, you can't lose hope," said Pedro.