2018Maria Cobo’s older brother Mariano was diagnosed at the high end of the autism spectrum when he was only 2 years old.
“My mom was pregnant with me and she noticed that her friends’ kids were talking, and Mariano was not.”
Cobo says her mother noticed Mariano had a specific routine, organized his toys in order of size and clapped his hands a lot.
Maria, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, found her second home in the Alpha Xi Delta sorority when she left for school from Puerto Rico.
“Coming (to Marquette) was overwhelming for me,” Cobo says. “The second I met the girls during rush week, it opened the door for me to talk to people that knew what it was like to live with someone with autism.”
Cobo says she rushed for Alpha Xi Delta because Autism Speaks helped her brother.
“Whenever we travel to the U.S. for more than a week, they put us in contact with someone from Autism Speaks,” Cobo says. She and her family have traveled to Disneyland multiple times, where their Autism Speaks connection coordinated express lane passes.
Cobo says during a certain period it was harder growing up with Mariano, though she never saw him as ‘different.’
“My friends would talk about their siblings and what they were doing, but I knew I didn’t want to have it any other way.”
Cobo says growing up with Mariano helped her accept others for who they are without labeling them.
“Our sorority is very devoted to our philanthropy. With them, I can talk about my brother and not feel like I’m going to be judged or get uncomfortable questions.”
Being a sister of Alpha Xi Delta sorority gives Cobo a feeling she says she can’t describe.
“Alpha Xi Delta is just one big family and though they have not met my brother, I feel like they know him personally,” Cobo says.