Parts of the Puzzle

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015

“We’re all different parts of the same puzzle.”

Director Carla shows a therapy puzzle that is very expensive to purchase in Mexico.

Director Carla shows a therapy puzzle that is very expensive to purchase in Mexico.

The quote on the wall and a big jigsaw puzzle graphic is the first thing you see when you step inside the door at Centro de Autismo Cozumel.

FOC volunteers recently visited the Center for Autism—a Cozumel nonprofit organization new to many of us. Inside a modest house we found bright splashes of color, therapy tools and a group of enthusiastic, but well-mannered children working with instructors and each other.

Karen (left) translates for Centro de Autismo Director Carla (2nd from left) during a tour by FOC volunteers.

Karen (left) translates for Centro de Autismo Director Carla (2nd from left) during a tour by FOC volunteers.

“We provide language, learning, behavioral and sensory therapy during morning and evening sessions,” said Director Carla Manzanero through a translator. “Our goal is to help children adapt to a regular school classroom and social situations.”

The Center currently serves 30 children, most of whom are boys. The story of a 12-year old boy shows the positive impact of the program. Enrique has a sensory disorder that caused him years of discomfort when anything touched his skin, including clothes.

“After several months of therapy, he is now able to dress himself and wear clothing just like his friends,” said Larry, one of the FOC leadership team members.

“It’s fantastic to have services for children of all abilities,” said Hettie, another FOC supporter. “I can see they’re doing great work here.”

A boy shows his Centro de Autismo "school uniform."

A boy shows his Centro de Autismo “school uniform.”

While the Centro de Autismo has had some modest financial help, it struggles to meet ongoing costs of rent and utilities as well as materials for therapy.

Manzanero showed the FOC visitors a Melissa & Doug brand wooden puzzle used for therapy. Costing $10-20 in the states, the puzzle cost more than $50 US when purchased in Mexico. She said receiving help to acquire these kinds of tools would have significant impact on their work.

Friends of Cozumel supporters often ask how we find the projects for our work. Sometimes it’s through someone who knows someone else who needs help. Sometimes the projects find us. Either way, we do our best to solve our own puzzle—finding ways to connect both youth and adults with opportunities to learn to help themselves. Let us know if you’d like to help. ~ Phyllis from Nebraska

30 children are served by Centro de Autismo Cozumel, a therapeutic center opened in 2008.

30 children are served by Centro de Autismo Cozumel, a therapeutic center opened in 2008.

Larry presents a small gift of school supplies from Friends of Cozumel to Carla during their tour.

Larry presents a small gift of school supplies from Friends of Cozumel during the tour of Centro de Autismo.

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