Gloria Ricardi Castillo: Community Outreach
Gloria’s journey started in Chile. As a young newlywed she moved to Massachusetts with her husband, eventually giving birth to her three children—two beautiful girls and a handsome boy who eventually was diagnosed with autism. Gloria found it difficult to attend church with her family due to her son’s sensory and behavioral issues, so she campaigned to create a Special Needs Ministry. As a result, parents of children with special needs had the opportunity to fully participate during Sunday services while their children were in Sunday school with their typical peers.
Gloria continued her journey of advocacy by volunteering at the Northeast Arc, as a parent advisory council member, she was offered a position in the family support division, and eventually became the co-director of the Autism Support Center, her current position. – Gloria is one of a very small group of Latino parents who hold community leadership positions; part of her work at the Autism Support Center is to help designed outreach strategies for vulnerable communities. Gloria is also instrumental in organizing a Spanish Language Conference, providing training to support families that have a loved one with autism in the northeast. Finally, she helped launch the successful “Touch to Talk” program, where children/families, having completed Northeast Arc training, receive an iPad for use as an assistive technology device. “Touch to Talk” has become an indispensable program for families who otherwise would not be able to access this type of intervention. The program now serves three public schools in the North Shore, for a total of 125 families and school personnel.