April is Autism Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion, we are shining a spotlight on the stories of individuals and their families who make our work possible, and who provide hope and support for the autism community. Our thanks to everyone who keeps this community strong, supportive, hopeful, and compassionate. We celebrate and appreciate each of you- this month and throughout the year.
Have you met the Mayor? Mayor Anthony Martinez Jr.? At 19 years old, Anthony is the man everyone wants to be friends with at his high school. But he wasn’t always this outgoing. Anthony was diagnosed with autism at age 2, after his parents and pediatrician recognized a lack of eye contact and speech. His parents immediately sprung to action, setting up occupational and speech therapy as well as early intervention, and later school-based support.
While he’s doing well now, his journey with autism has had its challenges.
“I remember one year, I was getting called to school every day,” says Anthony’s mom, Sandra. “He didn’t have the communication skills to express what he wanted or needed.”
Through therapy, Anthony learned social skills to help him communicate effectively with others. Now he can’t stop talking about his favorite thing: sports. From the Flyers to the Sixers to the Eagles, Anthony is a major Philadelphia sports fan. There was no question that when the Eagles announced their challenge, the Eagles Autism Challenge, he would be participating.