New Club Looks to Raise Awareness

Voices of the Amazing A look to give students a safe space


Diana Batres

Students Guadalupe Garcilazo, Gaspar Pantoja, Carlos Rodriguez, and Arthur Silva gather around room B43 on October 18 to discuss future plans. According to club adviser Alison Guerin, the club is open to everyone. “Students can just come to listen and eat lunch,” she said.

Imagine a world where everybody is treated equally despite our differences. One where disabilities didn’t define how people are treated. Students with autism struggle on a day to day basis as they face certain stereotypes. Every month, students who are a part of Voices of the Amazing A join together in hopes of bringing greater awareness about what autism really is. 

So what is autism? “Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder that can affect communication, cognition, and social skills. Since it’s a spectrum disorder, it can vary in every person,” Alison Guerin, the current Speech Pathologist at Alisal, said. 

However, because of society’s lack of effort to push for more awareness, the students find themselves battling against the public’s stereotypes. Often people with autism are stereotyped as passive aggressive, labeled as unintelligent, and are pinned to look a certain way. Senior Arthur Silva expressed that he had experienced moments in which he felt like some teachers lowered their standards so he’d succeed, which was frustrating for him. ”I once had a teacher who treated me like a little kid which was so stupid because I’m not a little kid,” he said. 

Guerin had just come into the school right before the pandemic hit and got the opportunity to work with a group of students who were on the spectrum. By doing so, she began to realize that some of her students didn’t know much about autism and the effects it could have on a person. “I didn’t understand why I was so sensitive to loud noises until I learned more about the effects of autism,” senior Carlos Rodriguez said.  

After meeting with the groups, she realized that the students were very passionate about what they were doing. “I realized that the students were really dedicated to learning more about autism and its effects,” Guerin said. From then on, The Voices of The Amazing A would become an official club. The club consists of seniors and a few freshmen to make the total of 10-12 members. 

One of the main goals is for her students to build up their confidence and feel a part of something.  Guerin has advanced towards this goal by having her students advocate for autism through public speaking. The students got the opportunity to speak at one of the district’s board meetings last year, which gave the students a boost of confidence. “We presented at the board meeting and got really great feedback,” Guerin said. 

However, it doesn’t stop there. The students actually got to participate in Club Booth Day and were all sold out of their cookies. It was a win-win situation as it allowed for the students to handle money and communicate with some unknown faces which was an accomplishment on the club’s behalf. “People were really kind to us and were happy to help us raise money for our club which was really nice,” Dayanara Silva said.

In a way, these topics often get swept under the rug because they tend to spark a sense of discomfort in some people. People with disabilities often don’t get the required help because of the limited resources in the school. “The sad thing is that the world isn’t really built for us,” Silva said. With this in mind, the group will be having an inclusion rally to expose families and students to services while also giving the public more information about Neurodivergence. The rally will consist of  posters promoting kindness, informational booths, and collaborative art projects. “The goal is to bring families together and provide them with resources while also bringing light to Alisal High,” Guerin said.

However, the battle doesn’t end there. The students are determined to push for change. They’ve been brainstorming some ideas on how they could achieve this by presenting in AVID classes. Club members will go into classrooms and expose students to scenarios students with disabilities go through, in hopes that it’ll help people develop a better understanding of the few struggles people with disabilities face on a regular basis. 

While the club is a place for students with autism, it’s open to  everyone. “Students can just come to listen and eat lunch,” Guerin said. Students were able to join during club rush, but interested students can contact Guerin via email: [email protected]