The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in th Continental United States

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Autism Awareness Month

autism

The Key West City Commission this week proclaimed April Autism Awareness Month. The designation, sponsored by Commissioner Margaret Romero and Vice Mayor Clayton Lopez, is aimed at raising awareness of what is considered the fastest growing developmental disorder in the county. It affects an estimated one of every 68 children in the U.S.

Autism, according to the proclamation, is a group of complex disorders often characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive disorders.

“It is the hope of this focus that all will practice principles of inclusion for individuals with autism and other special needs,” reads the proclamation. It continues, “inclusion is an attitude, an approach, and a mindset, which welcomes and facilitates participation by those with disabilities and special needs, and encourages accommodation.”

Dr. Ray Rodriguez, one of many parents and children that stood up to receive the proclamation, referred to himself as Alex’s dad. He said he and his now adult son “appreciate the spirit of inclusion” in Key West.

Commissioner Lopez’s sister Mina Lopez-Martin told the story of her autistic daughter who, now 19 years old, was diagnosed at age three. Her daughter is readying to attend Florida Keys Community College and intends to become a teacher.

“Parents,” said Lopez, “please know your child has a future. Don’t give up on them!”