Women’s History Month: The power of perseverance

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tx. (KGNS) - Veronica Orduño is an advocate for autism awareness. She created one of the first groups in Webb County that guided parents toward early detection and resources.

" I want to help these moms,” Orduño said. " I want to help these dads, I want to help these families because autism can be very isolating.”

Orduño has been at the forefront of pushing to make Webb County an autism-friendly community. Her drive to advocate for autism awareness stems from a love only a mother knows.

“My motivation has always been Tito, when he went to school at three-years-old and the resources were not there, that is when I said ‘enough’” Orduño said.

In 1995, Orduño’s son Tito was diagnosed with autism. She said she and her family had no idea what it was. Their only option was to go out of town for resources.

After traveling out-of-town she would come back and share her new knowledge, hoping her son’s school would adapt.

“We started from scratch,” Orduño said. “We started with a room, and I said, ‘you have to have a patted room,’ because he would run into the wall due to his sensory issues. The teacher did not know what to do.”

The more Orduño learned about autism spectrum disorder, the harder she pushed for change in her community. But she also noticed something else; other families were struggling too.

In 1999, she founded, “Families for Autism Support and Awareness.” She quickly became the go-to person for parents in the community who wondered about autism. ”When they call me and feel lost and cry, I tell them, ‘It’s ok to cry,’” Orduño said. “I cry too and I have been on the journey for a while.”

The group started off with just five families, and now in 2023 it’s a staple in our community. ”We have a lot of families in our group,” Orduño said. “I like to say there are 850 families that have gone through our group. But every day there is a new family.”

The group started off with simple ways to help such as sending parents out of town to conferences to learn about treatments and therapy options.  Then it started to bring medical professionals to Laredo in order to help parents who couldn’t travel. There are also fun sensory-friendly outings for the kids. As a group, they will rent out a movie theater, visit the safari, or go enjoy pizza.

But one of the group’s biggest accomplishments has been changing how other entities accept their mission.

“We have been able to train the Laredo Police Department,” said Orduño. “And we have a conjunction with Laredo College south campus with their EMS program. We train their students and have mock clinic sessions.”

A mother’s love has grown into a mission that others can now benefit from and share with others. ”I am doing this for Tito and the children,” Orduño said. “But when the parents come to tell me I am making a difference I say, ' thank you,’ but it’s really for all of us.’”

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