Making a Difference in Autism, Santiago & Friends Celebrates One Year

Santiago and FriendsOn Sunday, April 17, 2016, Latino Leadership celebrated the one-year anniversary of its widely successful program, Santiago & Friends | Family Center for Autism. For the past 15 years, the nonprofit has spearheaded educational programs to provide the best opportunities to the Central Florida community.

In order to address a growing need in the community for culturally- and linguistically-sensitive autism services and the never-ending waiting lists, Latino Leadership opened the center in 2015 to much fanfare. Since 2015, through Santiago & Friends | Family Center for Autism, the organization has been providing wrap-around services for its more than 40 families incorporating ABA therapy, parent training, workshops, and more.

Marytza Sanz, President of Latino Leadership, originally presented the idea of opening a new center to the Board of Directors of the organization in September of 2014. “This started as a dream. I live the challenge daily with my grandson Santiago. Every day presents a new challenge and opportunity,” said Sanz, noting that no two cases of autism are equal, every single one is unique. “Families need to soak up information and get to know better the resources available because this is a process that cannot be done only in schools or therapy centers; you have to work with it all day, especially at home.”

“The work we’ve seen daily at Santiago & Friends is life altering; not only for our clients, but their families and our staff,” said Marucci Guzman, Executive Director of Latino Leadership. “The successes we’ve experienced in our first year are the best motivation to continue to work towards our mission of guaranteeing the welfare of our children. We are servicing a marginalized sector of our community and are proud to be making a difference.”

Since Santiago & Friends | Family Center for Autism opened its doors, the program has provided more than 3,500 hours of 1:1 ABA, music therapy, social skills, parent training, among other specialized services. On Thursday, April 21, 2016 Latino Leadership will host a Tee-Off Par-Tee to kick-off their 9th annual charity golf tournament from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Santiago & Friends will be open for a tour at this time. If you need more information or are interested in a scheduling a VIP tour of the center, contact Santiago & Friends at 407.895.0801 or info@santiagoandfriends.com.

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