Meet Maruja and her son Derek (5). Maruja actively participated in Ayllu’s pilot program over the summer, learning strategies to best work with her son via Ayllu’s video curriculum.

Maruja, originally from Peru, lives in Lynnwood, WA with her family. When her son was diagnosed with autism at 3.5 years old it was difficult for her to understand what services and resources were available to her due to language barriers and cultural contexts around disability. She began to navigate systems with help from a family member, attended therapies with her son and enrolled him in preschool. Although all services were delivered in English and professionals did not speak Spanish, she fought to understand how to better help her son. What was missing was the link for home support– for her family and multiple household members.

Ayllu’s Spanish speaking video curriculum was key in engaging the people in Derek’s life on a daily basis. It taught the family simple strategies for engaging and supporting Derek and that made great changes in the stress and home environment. The Ayllu program allowed Maruja to finally share and learn with her husband how to best work with their child and better understand him.  It improved her own mental health by reducing anxiety and stress about her burden to care for her son, and improved her son’s challenging behaviors. We are proud to have supported Maruja and her family. As Derek enters kindergarten, we will be offering parent advocacy support services to help Maruja navigate the special education system, inclusion and education rights of her son.

Visit Maruja and her aunt’s up and coming Peruvian restaurant, El Rey Peruano, in Lynnwood, Wa. Eat a good meal, knowing you are supporting a Manos Unidas family in your community!

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