September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx people.
At Opya, we want to celebrate the many contributions of Hispanics and Latinx individuals in the autism community. From writers to reporters, artists to educators, and more, there are many people in the Hispanic and Latinx communities changing and impacting the autism community.
Here are a few of them!
Eric Garcia is a DC-based is a DC-based political journalist. He is currently the senior Washington correspondent for The Independent. Garcia previously worked for The Washington Post, The Hill, Roll Call, National Journal, and MarketWatch. He has also written articles for The New Republic, The Daily Beast, Salon.com, and Spectrum.
Garcia published his first book We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation in 2021. Based on his own experiences and frustrations as a person with autism, We’re Not Broken explores the social and policy gaps that exist and impact people on the autism spectrum.
Adriana Lebron White
Adriana Lebron White is a librarian, former special education teacher, children’s book author, and neurodiversity advocate. After being diagnosed with autism and anxiety in her 30s, White began advocating for more inclusive schools and libraries. She hosts workshops and gives talks on the importance of diverse books. She also gave a very popular TEDx Talk on autism and neurodiversity.
Dana Trick is a young Hispanic writer with autism. As a first-generation Mexican-Canadian-American, Trick spent most of her childhood and young adulthood trying to find representation in the media of autism that she could relate to. In one of her essays, Trick begins by saying, “The most infuriating and biggest myth surrounding the autism spectrum is that most people believe it only affects Caucasian boys.”
Trick writes poems, short stories, fairy tales, and comics about being an outsider to everything and occasionally exploring her experience on the autism spectrum. You can read some of Trick’s work on The Art of Autism.
Gabrielle Zwi is a DC-based musician and activist.
Zwi blends the sounds of folk-pop and bossa nova in songs about love, identity, and breaking barriers. Zwi’s first album Without a Label was released in 2018 and the musician has been a featured artist on several other artists’ projects. Zwi shares that their autism and other disabilities play an integral role in their creative work. Recently, Zwi won the Silver Award in the Freedom Category of the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, for “We Rise,” which was a collaboration with other young songwriters committed to combating climate change.
In 2018 Zwi founded DC Teens Action, a non-profit that helps make activism accessible to students with disabilities, financial need, and other barriers to access. At 18 years old Zwi was appointed to the Human Rights Commission of the City of Rockville and in 2021 to the Montgomery County Committee Against Hate/Violence.
Paloma Dueñas is a multidisciplinary artist who was born and raised in Mexico City. In 2001 she moved to Miami and later went on to graduate with honors from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a bachelor’s in Music (Music Therapy and Voice).
Dueñas works as a music therapist and art teacher for children with and without special needs. She specializes in working with kids with autism and other sensory disorders.
Multi-talented, Dueñas is also a photographer, jewelry maker, and more! In 2013 she created a live Brazilian jazz and soul music project called Brasoul. And in 2017 she launched Ohm Sessions, a space where she provides sound meditation services.
Karina Castillo is a mom of two children with autism, the founder of the non-profit Corazones Unidos para el Autismo, and the author of Amo A Alguien Con Autismo: Historias y Recursos para Cuidadores, a collection of stories all in Spanish, focused on the challenges and achievements of Latinx caregivers and parents.
When Castillo’s son was first diagnosed with autism she was overwhelmed with the information presented to her and that the resources offered to her family weren’t created with the values and struggles of the Latinx community in mind. It became clear that there was a need in her community for support and resources for Hispanic and Latinx families with children on the spectrum. This led Castillo down the path of creating her non-profit which works to bring support and services to Hispanic families.
Adhara Pérez Sánchez
Adhara Pérez Sánchez is a young space science prodigy and public speaker, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Sanchez graduated from elementary school at the age of 5, middle school at the age of 6, and high school at the age of 8.
Currently, she is studying industrial engineering in mathematics at the Universidad Tecnológica de México and is developing a smart bracelet to help monitor the emotions of children with special needs. Her dream is to become an astronaut and work for NASA.
Marcy Campos is a first-generation Dominican/Latinx special education teacher, mom to a teen with autism, and the creator and host of the Comadreando Podcast. She received her Master’s in Bilingual Special Education from the City College of New York and began teaching for the NYC Department of Education in 2013.
Comadreando Podcast is a podcast where Campos aims to create a community and provide resources to parents with children with special needs. She also works to create more inclusive environments, educate, and break stigmas around people with disabilities in communities of color.
Dr. Edlyn Peña
Dr. Edlyn Peña is the Director and Associate Professor of the Education Leadership doctoral program at Cal Lutheran and an award-winning researcher who studies ways to support autistic students. She is an advocate for communication access for non-speaking students with autism and works to support students with autism to attend and succeed in college.