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Understanding & acceptance promoted on World Autism Awareness Day

Posted at 10:03 AM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 10:03:54-04

STUART, Fla. -- Tuesday was World Autism Awareness Day with a goal to increase understanding and acceptance.

Matt Gazell works in aftercare at the Hope Center For Autism in Stuart. "I help kids make good and safe choices such as learning to play the game, helping them share and use their inside voice."

His mentor says Matt is on the autism spectrum and recently graduated with a two year college degree. She's proud of his accomplishments. A few months ago she gave him a job.

"I've known him since he was young and one of our goals is to make sure we have support for people with autism of all ages. So adults are very important to me, i think there is a big need to continue providing the support and they are teaching us just as much as we are teaching them," said Hope Center for Autism Executive Director Joanne Sweazey.

During the day, the staff teaches pre-schoolers up to 6th grade. The charter school also has socialization times for middle school students and adults. They are helping the young ones to grow up and be more independent like Matt.

"Maybe ask questions from time to time, if you see things and you are not sure. people with autism are just like anybody else. A lot of times people may think they may not want to be social, but they do," said Sweazey. "I think it's important that the community understands that they want to be successful just as much as everybody else."

Matt is proud that he has a job now. "The best part about having a job is obviously you get paid, minimum wage, it's nice."

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