Stefanie's Story - Opera Gives Voice To Autistic Singer
April 23rd, 2010.
NBC Nightly News featured OCCTAC student Stefanie Diaz and instructor Renee Rulon Cortez in the "Making A Difference" segment on their Friday night national broadcast.
For all of us who have known Stefanie and her family for many years it was an emotional moment. It was wonderful to see how far Stefanie has come in the 9 years she has received therapeutic art classes at our center. Of course, a 2-minute news segment cannot tell her amazing story in much detail. But Dr. Ana Jimènez-Hami, founder and president, remembers. "Stefanie was one of our first students. Her family came to us for help because both Stefanie and her brother have autism. Stefanie displayed severe autistic behavior at that time.
Stefanie Diaz at age 9.
However, Stefanie showed a keen interest in many forms of art. Over the years, she has attended visual art classes, dance and many different music classes. She is currently visiting the center 4 days a week and besides opera, she takes piano, violin and art. We asked her father how these classes have impacted Stefanie and his family. "The difference is a miracle" responds José Luis Diaz. "I'd describe her improvement level as 75 per cent from where she was to the best she can get." Hoping for 100 per cent, Stefanie and her brother keep attending classes and improving more! How did they like the NBC Story? Mr. Diaz: "We are waiting for a DVD copy. We could not watch it on Friday night. Stefanie was at the center in a violin class".
Many of you know that federal funding for Stefanie as well as many others of our students has been cut. We hope to be able to continue to provide classes to all of our students.
Please consider becoming a sponsor by making a donation. OCCTAC is a 501 C3 non-profit organization. Thank you for helping our children!
Instructor Renee Rulon Cortez about her work with Stefanie: