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Lucia Barbeyto – When a Diagnosis Becomes Your Life’s Purpose
My name is María Lucía Barbeyto. I was born and raised in Spain, in a very humble family. I am the third of six siblings, all from the same father and mother. I came to the United States for love in 1999 when I was 27 years old and have lived in Miami ever since. Initially, the plan was to spend a couple of years in this country and then return to Spain, but fate had something else in store for me. Not only did I have to adapt to a completely different culture, including learning a new language as an adult, but our first child, Héctor, was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of 2 and with epilepsy at 11.
Fortunately, us, his parents have been together for 25 years, and despite all the difficulties we’ve faced, we’ve been able to form a beautiful family with two children. Héctor is now 19, and my daughter, who is the younger of the two, is a typically developing child who is currently 17.
Regarding my academic and professional background, I graduated with honors from Keiser University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business. I also obtained a Master’s degree in Project Management from the European Institute of Graduate Studies (IEP) in Spain. Additionally, I am a member of the Business Honor Society Delta Mu Delta. For several years, I held various leadership positions in the transportation and logistics industry. I have solid experience in finance, project management, and operations. However, as the mother of a non-functioning neurodivergent child, my life undoubtedly changed forever in countless ways. Due to all the health-related issues my son has had, I had to reevaluate my personal and professional goals.
Over the last 17 years, I have dedicated my life to learning and engaging in everything related to child development, especially children with developmental disabilities and the educational system. I’ve been helping families find their way in the world of autism by providing free consultations and resources. I became a Certified Advocate in 2016 after completing the “Partner in Policy Making” program offered by the Florida Developmental Disability Council. I was also a board member of Florida’s State Advisory Committee on the Education of Exceptional Students (SAC) in the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). I am currently a board member of the Autism Society of Florida.
In 2019, I decided to advance my knowledge in early childhood education. I returned to college to earn the necessary credits and received certification as a Director of Child Care Center Programs to become the director of a preschool that fully includes children with special needs. Hoping to help more families and better address my son’s needs, I returned to the University of South Florida (USF) and obtained a certification in Positive Behavior Support. Additionally, I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at the same University of South Florida (USF).
As a short-term professional goal, I plan to open a center for young adults on the spectrum in Miami. The concern and commitment to helping other families in my situation have served as the main motivation for my decision to finally change my profession and dedicate myself to sharing my knowledge and experience with other families. My objective is to equip them with tools and inspire them to take charge of their children’s developmental process.