“There are lot of kids here in Beeville that have it,” she said. “It is just a big epidemic and I think people should know about it.”
She is asking residents to wear blue Monday as part of a global initiative to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized in varying degrees by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.
An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
Many of these children are able to be diagnosed early – like Victoria whose symptoms became visible at age 3.
Salazar said that raising Victoria has been a challenge but a rewarding one.
“It is never a dull day,” she said. “It is always something new, something different.”
Victoria, now 17, is a student at A.C. Jones High School and should graduate in about three years.
“We try not to limit her,” Salazar said. “She can do a lot of things. It is just difficult for her to communicate and understand.
“It is just hard for her to get things across. She cannot have a full conversation with somebody.
“She does communicate her wants and needs. She has come a long way.”
Despite her progress, Victoria won’t likely live on her own after graduation.
“She is very independent but I don’t know that she would be able to do it on her own,” her mother said.
Through it all, Victoria has also taught her parents a lesson.
“We have learned not to take anything for granted,” she said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.