Meet Elfy A.

Elfy A.

Being able to help so many parents, work with my state representatives, share my son's history to help educate legislators and creating an extended family for my son with the Autism Speaks community.

Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en español de esta historia.

Elfy and Frankho

Elfy’s son, Frankho, 13, might not be able to say thank you to his mom, but there’s no question he appreciates all she does for him and so many others in the autism community. Diagnosed at 15 months, Frankho is nonverbal but never lets his autism get in the way of enjoying all that life has to offer. Playing sports, learning about the newest trends in the world of technology, riding horses and even traveling, this 8th grader has a rock-solid support system and big dreams!

“He is an adventurous teenager and is always so happy. He understands English and Spanish perfectly. He is a warrior. He is very independent, loves music and also has done some modeling,” said his proud mom. “His challenges have been interacting with peers and communicating. He is a very smart, energetic and kind teenage boy! He never gives up, no matter how hard things get. He is my world, my pride, my everything.”

Elfy has been a volunteer ambassador for Autism Speaks since the grassroots program began. Originally from El Salvador, she is heavily involved in Hispanic and Spanish-speaking autism communities – continuously using her voice to help create a brighter future for people with autism like her son and their families.

The Autism Speaks Advocacy Ambassador Program is designed to build relationships between constituents and legislators at the federal level. Our Advocacy Ambassadors help Autism Speaks meet our advocacy goals by sharing their personal experiences and information on policies related to autism. This diverse group of advocates includes over 400 volunteers from 49 states and the District of Columbia and include people with autism, family members, lawyers, behavioral analysts and more!

Elfy and Frankho

About a year ago, Elfy began appearing in a weekly segment for online television centered around autism called “Negocios, Finanzas y Más,” and writes monthly articles in Spanish in “El Poder de Ser Mujer Newspaper.” She was also recognized by El Poder de Ser Mujer as being one of 100 Latina Leaders in the Washington DC metropolitan area in 2019 – an honor she calls one of her proudest moments.

Learn more about Elfy and her work in the Hispanic autism community in this Q&A:

Who do you advocate for?

I advocate for my son, Frankho, my world.

Frankho

Why did you decide to become an Advocacy Ambassador for Autism Speaks?

To be able to help other parents and autism community. Also, to advocate for their rights and make sure the entire autism community receives adequate treatment based on their needs. Also, to build a better society for them with understanding, acceptance and love.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

My roots, where I come from, who I am, a lot of music, art, culture and being a proud Latina representing El Salvador. 

When you see disparities in the Hispanic autism community, such as the ones below, what goes through your mind?

  • Hispanic children are diagnosed with autism at a lower rate than white children, with 1 in 65 Hispanic children diagnosed at age 8 compared to 1 in 54 white children.
  • Parent knowledge about autism is the most common barrier to diagnosis among Latino families with English proficiency (72%) and limited English proficiency (85%).

Worry. Because I know that many Hispanic children are diagnosed late because parents have a language barrier which makes it hard to communicate and find information in their language to better help their children

How can we work together towards rectifying some of these numbers in the autism/Hispanic community?

I think that having more information in their language and being able to provide workshops or seminars in the community. Contact the local Hispanic organizations, schools, advocacy organizations and learning centers to create partnerships. Also, being able to share tools that will guide them or help with what to do or how to deal with the signs of autism or how to get diagnosed.

In regards to your work as an Autism Speaks Advocacy Ambassador, what are you most proud of?

Elfy and Frankho

Being able to help so many parents, work with my state representatives, share my son's history to help educate legislators and creating an extended family for my son with the Autism Speaks community.

Why should other people – especially those in the Hispanic autism community – get involved with advocacy efforts?

Because this journey is not easy and we need to be united to be able to learn together and advocate for our children's rights. This will allow us to build a better society where our children can be accepted the way they are. They each learn and see life in a different, unique way! We just need to learn and see differently too!

The story shared above represents the experience, views and perspectives of the individual(s) highlighted. We aim to share stories across the spectrum and throughout the life span, but the information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals.

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You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or help@autismspeaks.org.