Chairman Diaz recognizes Autism Awareness Month with special event
Left to Right: Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz speaks at the Autism Awareness Month Exhibit Unveiling on Tuesday, April 12. Siblings Jacob and Skylar Rae Velazquez, who both have autism, performed at the event. (Photos by: Godfrey Mead/Miami-Dade County)
MIAMI-DADE – Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz, along with the Dan Marino Foundation and the South Florida Autism Charter School, hosted the 12th annual Autism Awareness Month Exhibit Unveiling in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW 1st St., Miami, FL 33128.
“This is an important event for me. These are very special individuals in our community. We want to create awareness, so that people understand why they are so special. We want to help make them productive citizens in our community and show them love and support to bring out their talents,” said Chairman Diaz. The event included a performance by Jacob Velazquez, who has autism and has been part of the event in previous years. This time, he was joined on stage by Skylar Rae Velazquez, his little sister who is also diagnosed with autism. The siblings sang, impressing all the attendees with their talents. Students from the South Florida Autism Charter School were present to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
The event featured an autism art collage with pieces from all the previous exhibits created by the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience. County Commissioner Raquel Regalado, who is a mother to children with autism, and Vice Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert, III, who is a father to a child with autism, shared their experiences with the attendees, highlighting the importance to include neurodiverse people in our community.
Chairman Diaz sponsored a resolution in 2009 that declared April as Autism Awareness Month in Miami-Dade County to increase awareness about autism and treatment and to encourage early testing for children. He has hosted an annual autism awareness event in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center Lobby every year since then, except for 2020 when the event was canceled due to COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is a developmental disability that impairs communication skills and social abilities. There is no known cause or cure for autism, which is estimated to affect one out of every 59 children born in the United States.