Controversial autism organization speaks out

With receipts and documents in hand, Lana De Leon and Tony Torres are ready to defend the work they do for children with Autism through the newly-formed group Social Day Camp for Autism.

De Leon said there are other organizations in the Valley dedicated to helping children with other special needs but not one dedicated to children with Autism.

Tony Torres said his own son is autistic and that's what prompted him to start the organization.

Torres said the organization has been in operation for about the two months and they have already hosted four successful events.

However, Brownsville City Commissioner Melissa Zamora alleges this organization has been operating as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and accepting monetary and in-kind donations from people throughout the Rio Grande Valley even though they haven't officially received the approval.

De Leon also said that just because the organization is not a 501(c)3 organization, it doesn't mean that they are a non-profit organization with good intentions.

"I mean how many non-profit groups are out there in the Valley that are having fund raisers and are raising money for people" De Leon asked.

De Leon and Torres said they haven't taken people's money and have even invested their own money into the organization.

They said Commissioner Zamora is missing the bigger picture which they have in mind.

"I see what (Torres),goes through every day," De Leon said. "There's times where (we can't) meet for lunch because he's got to meet with his son because kids won't sit with him. It's very hurtful that she's been attacking us on Facebook.

De Leon and Torres said their goal is to bring awareness to Autism and they will continue hosting events to help autistic children and their families.