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Merced and Paloma
Merced and Paloma Diaz

SECC benefits UTSA family -- and there's still time to give

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(Oct. 31, 2008)--Twice a month, David Diaz, UTSA associate director of human resources, helps welcome new employees to campus. His job is to communicate the services and benefits that are available to UTSA faculty and staff, many of whom are new to San Antonio. Diaz reports that he always takes a moment to mention the United Way and the services they offer to the San Antonio families.

"This part of the presentation is special to me because my family has benefited from agencies supported by the United Way and the State Employee Charitable Campaign," he says. David and his wife, Theresa, are the proud parents of two children, Merced, 6, and Paloma, 4. When Merced was two years old he was diagnosed with autism, the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

"He's a wonderful little guy and in many ways a typical six-year-old," Diaz says, also while noting that Merced faces daily challenges. Current statistics show that 1 of 150 children are diagnosed with autism, a condition which is characterized by impaired, atypical social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive or severely limited activities and interests.

When their son's diagnosis was confirmed, David and Theresa, a former teacher, went into action, educating themselves about the condition so that they could provide the right treatments and therapeutic interventions for their son.

Theresa became a leader in the local chapter of the Autism Society of America, a position that allowed her to educate parents and health professionals about the importance of early intervention. A profile of the activist mom was published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

David and Theresa continue to work diligently to prepare Merced for happy, independent and functional living. Today, he is an active first grader at Oak Hills Terrace Elementary where his teachers and peers have embraced him as one of their own.

"Organizations like Any Baby Can [SECC agency number 415066] make a big difference in the lives of families and family members with disabilities," said Diaz. "But they and other agencies like them need our support to ensure these services continue. During UTSA's SECC Campaign, I encourage everyone to help make a difference and give to an agency of your choice. What you give, regardless of the amount, goes a long way. Merced is living proof."

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SECC extended through Friday, Nov. 7

As of Nov. 4, UTSA had 66 percent employee participation in the State Employee Charitable Campaign. If you have not made a donation, it's not too late! The campaign was extended through Friday, Nov. 7.

Donate online to SECC, or turn in your form to your Area Delegate or send it to the Office of External Affairs.

For assistance, contact your Area Delegate or the UTSA Office of External Affairs at (210) 458-5102.

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