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      Valley Group Forms for Special Needs Children

      Anthony Rivera is 38-years-old, but entirely dependent on his mother.

      He is autistic and developmentally challenged, so he counts on his mother, Diana Rivera, to support him in every way.

      "You know, it's like having a 5-year-old," Diana told Action 4 News. "It's still a lot of work."

      Anthony enjoys painting, but Diana said there aren't too many organizations out there willing to tap into those creative skills in people with special needs.

      She said the resources really drop off after the age of 18.

      "As a mother, that just breaks my heart, and for the love of my life here, he's just fortunate that he's able to go to art classes and do what he wants to do," she said.

      When Anthony needed speech therapy, his mother asked a state program for help and was told to wait.

      "He was on the waiting list for 18 years and that's just ridiculous," she said.

      It wasn't until an advocacy group for those with special needs stepped in, that he got help.

      "Because of The Arc of Texas lobbying and advocating, more kids were taken off the list," Diana told Action 4 News.

      Rivera and a group of parents started a local chapter of The Arc of Texas.

      The organization acts as an advocate for families with children who have special needs.

      They train parents to be advocates for their sons and daughters as well as educate other parents on what their special needs children are entitled to.

      "We want to provide the services and the information for families who's kids are still young, and maybe by the time they get to be my son's age, there will be places for them to go and things for them to do to enjoy their lives," Diana said.

      She said The Arc of South Texas also wants to create a center where people with special needs can go for free, learn the arts and have fun.

      The Arc of South Texas is having a strategy meeting open to the public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 17, at 709 North Ware Road in McAllen.

      There, people can get more information on how to become advocates for their special needs loved ones.

      For more information, email Diana Rivera, president of The Arc of South Texas:

      She said The Arc of South Texas is also on facebook at the following URL: