Autism awareness

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    The international symbol for autism is a multi-colored puzzle piece, this one made from candle wax.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Multi-colored puzzle pieces, this one made from candle wax, are the international symbol for autism.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Shana Cruz holds up one of the puzzle pieces she’s made using melted crayons, symbols of autism awareness.

PUHI — A hodgepodge of colors are mixed and melted together to make the puzzle-piece crayons that Shana Cruz hands out during the month of April.

It’s a way to promote Autism Awareness Month.

“Every one of them is unique, just like our children, just like us,” Cruz said. “They’re a celebration of diversity and a token of acknowledgement and autism awareness.”

Cruz isn’t a licensed healthcare professional. She’s a mother who shares information based on her own personal experience and the woman who sparked “Be The Voice,” a parent-to-parent support organization that hosts events and coffee hours.

Her journey with autism started when her oldest son SJ was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. SJ is now 6. His brother, Matthew, is 5, and also has autism. Cruz’s youngest son is just about 2 years old and the family isn’t sure if he’s following in his brother’s footsteps.

“He’s talking, but we’re not sure,” Cruz said.

The Cruz family turned to Easter Seals when they first started wondering if SJ had developmental disorders, and has since found a cache of resources for families and individuals who are on the spectrum.

Cruz went back to school in August to “learn how to be a better parent,” taking classes at Kauai Community College in early childhood development.

Now, Cruz is sharing what she learned through Be The Voice.

“It’s a grassroots effort to be in a place that’s comfortable where we can talk and share,” she said.

Monthly coffee hours are hosted throughout the island on different Saturdays, and those who attend sign some paperwork that ensures confidentiality.

On April 19, the Autism Society of Hawaii is presenting a resource fair at the Kauai Veterans Center from noon to 2 p.m.

And to wrap it up on April 28, Be The Voice is hosting a Last Hoorah for the autism month celebration with a train ride through Kilohana Plantation. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children.

Info: or


Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or


Editor’s note: The time of the resource fair at the Kauai Veterans Center has been corrected. A reference to a family day at Kanuikapono Public Charter School on April 15 has been removed as it is not scheduled.

  1. Charlie Chimknee April 8, 2019 8:59 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    The simultaneous increase in children with Autism, and other diseases going on at a rapid increase in society shares its expansion with the rapid increase in new and more “modern” chemicals in our nation as well as other “developed” nations.

    Non-nutritive chemicals in the food, especially foods directed to children’s consumption is at epidemics proportions that have become EXPLOSIVE.

    Foods colored, flavored, preserved, Genetically Modified, factory altered, laboratory tainted, purpose-less ingredients, chemical additives, ingredients made from crude oil and coal tar outweighing in numbers the actual food; packaging itself identified as toxic to humans, food crops sprayed with and treated with chemicals now known to cause cancer (Glyphosate), while cancer statistics also are skyrocketing, pharmaceutical medical drugs with warnings unheard of ever before, television ads for drugs promoting drugs by happy satisfied actors, and at the same time telling you you may become way worse sick or dead from taking them…and doctors, hospitals, chemical companies, pharmacists, petrochemical laboratories, cancer centers, Autism scientists…all act stupified and silent as to this new chemicals and disease racetrack, all the while counting their income at hundreds, if not thousands, of times the income of the average patient, the average worker…

    And some want Medicare for all…? Sounds like a red chemical hot dog on a “lure” stick…!

    Is PROFIT Driving the current ignoring of reality of chemicals, now called Environmental Chemicals, and their surge in our food and medicine and agricultural use, and the simultaneous shared surge in new, sickly, debilitating, and deadly diseases.

    Many scientists are coming to the conclusion that we have gone too far out on this limb of what is now recognized as a pseudo science of chemicals (chemistry); and it is bankrupting the intent of medical care, which is DO NO HARM, and help the sick…and now causing the sick.

    One doctor said the diagnosis of any disease should not be given some name of irrelevance, like diabetes or Alzheimer’s, or squamous cell carcinoma…but rather the name for every disease should be named after this CAUSE. And that is why all this medical money, $4 Trillion Dollars a year, much of it should be spent on finding the Causes of all these diseases and not their profitable treatments.

    Disease Care, a pill for every ill, or worse surgery, is sadly driven by Profit…a motive that interferes with quality of care. The World Health Organization (WHO) rates the USA as #37 in the world as to quality of Health Care, behind tiny Costs Rica in Central America. We should be ashamed…and for sure America Deserves Better. Those in Control…have Lost Control

    Medical care’s dependence on chemicals has brought them into the rut of Fake Science, driven by profit instead of Health.

    Ignoring Health for a Pill for Every ill, is the accelerating of the further demise of medical care. The deeper the rut they are in the more the vacuum grows to replace drugs and chemicals in our bodies and environment, our food and our Disease Care.

    What if you were trained to work on your Health every day and you never required Disease Care. Some people live like this already, but they are few. We can learn by them.

    A society that relies on poisoning its food with chemicals is insane. Childhood cancers, childhood autism on the increase…more cannot be tolerated.

    Look at how many people walk among us who are obese, and they appear oblivious to it with a super sized fries in one hand and a Big Gulp Soda. Education seems more important than Disease Care for them…Prevention…even if we must get tough about it.

    Many sickly people cannot work and go on Welfare and Disease Care the working taxpayers have to pay for having hard time already providing for their own. We need a new Health Care System…it should begin in Elementary School.



  2. Dr Jahirul Islam Leeton April 20, 2019 7:38 am Reply

    I would like to work with autism awareness programs.
    If I get opportunity to do such work I’ll be highly grateful to u all.
    Dr jaheer

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