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by Diana Alvarez




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I grew up in a primarily female dominated household - father, mother, two older sisters, and myself! I was the baby of immigrant parents who raised me and my two older sisters. Even though I biologically only have two other siblings, by heart I have two MORE. My uncle and aunt have two boys whom I consider brothers. The oldest of them just recently turned 26 and has severe autism and the other, just a few years younger, doesn't but does struggle with socializing. I see both of them as my younger brothers and that has been the case since I was a little girl myself.

My cousins: 

Santitos has been my pride and joy since I could remember. Our entire family would and still bend over backwards to see him smile. My tio and tia have given him the world, too. And not in a "spoiled" type of way (We're Mexican and don't believe in handouts!), but rather in an understanding and loving way. They've taught him how to do everyday tasks even though he absolutely dreads them, how to make eye contact, how to say "please and thank you", and most importantly, how to love and care for people. Though we all know he may face certain challenges, that doesn't take away from his ability to shine and make everybody smile. 

Alberto is more reserved than his brother, but just as lovable. He is hardworking like his father and a great cook like his mother. He loves in his own way that only those who truly open their arms to him can experience. He is thoughtful, and observant. With a love for anime and silence while driving, Albert is able to put his own flare into things. Conversations with him are never dull- he has always been able to teach me new things.

It's clear that I have been overprotective of them both since childhood, and for a good reason - they have big hearts. My goal is to raise not just "awareness" but ACCEPTANCE of Autism and of ALL specialities. These two have big hearts and we should learn how to follow in their footsteps.