In the Public Interest

Super Powers Come from Within

todayDecember 5, 2013 51

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Autism Awareness
Photo Credit: Autism Awareness
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    Super Powers Come from Within Josue Plaza

“Hello, my name is Dianesse, but everyone calls me Dina.”
– Dianesse Plaza

The person you’re listening to right now is Dianesse Plaza. She has been living with autism her entire life. She is a gocery store employee, and she’s also my sister.

“I’m autistic but enough about that. What I’m really working on is my artwork- my manga. It’s about this story called the “Junior Soldiers.” It’s about 5 teenagers who gained superpowers to protect the world from terrorists,” described Dianesse.

Autism; a disorder characterized by social interaction impairments, speech complications, and repetitive behavior. According to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Autism affects 1 in 88 children with more than 2 million individuals living in the United States. Many families must prepare to handle the tremendous responsibilities that come with raising an autistic child. For the Plaza family, raising Dianesse has proven to be their most challenging, yet rewarding experience.

Dianesse Plaza is 25 years old and has been diagnosed with Autism since the age of four. She is an avid illustrator, with plans on starting her own comic series. Her favorite types of entertainment are horror games, with The Last of Us being her all time favorite. She has been working at her local HEB for the past 5 years, which as also earned her an Employee of the Month award.

“I work as a bagger at HEB at the 3009. I bag groceries, help do carryouts, and do cart returns,” Dianesse said.

“It’s my favorite job in the world.”
– Dianesse Plaza

Dianesse does not let her disability get in the way of her life. In fact, she does not even notice the disorder at all. She feels and acts like everybody else. She enjoys going to the movies with her friends, and sleeping in on Saturday mornings. She even takes care of her poodle, named Jack.

Raising Dianesse has had its ups and downs. Her father, Ralph Plaza, tells us the story of when he knew Dianesse was different.

“From the very beginning, I noticed something with Dianesse, that she was very different. Normally, if you put your finger on a child’s hand, the child will have a tendency to squeeze the finger. I noticed when Dianesse was born that she did not squeeze my finger at all. For me, that made me wonder. I wonder if children are born with autism, or if they develop it. When I hand my second child, Josue, I remember having the same fear and being hesitate of putting my finger on his palm. But as soon as I did so, Josue firmly grasped my finger,” explained Ralph.

“I wonder if children are born with autism, or if they develop it.”
– Ralph Plaza

Ralph Plaza is a veteran, serving in the United States Army for over 22 years. After retiring, Ralph signed up for a job that gave him a little bit more time to spend with his family. He now sell houses for Chesmar homes, and is able to have a flexible schedule to take Dianesse to work or plan an evening with the rest of the family.

Growing up with an autistic sister, we have become very close. It is very easy for us to connect. Dianesse needs special care, and our whole family makes sure that she is well taken care of.

Josue Plaza, KTSW News.

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