Super Dadvocate: Pete Villasuso Making a Difference!
Meet Super Dadvocate: Pete Villasuso
“When a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work”. This quote about a fireman is very fitting when describing our Super Dadvocate, Pete Villasuso. Pete, a Firefighter/Paramedic for St. Lucie County, has become an advocate for helping First Responders get necessary training in order to better communicate with, handle, and treat people with autism. We’ll let Pete tell you about himself and his family in his own words. GO PETE!
First, I’m a husband to a beautiful soul, Sharon. Second, I’m a Dad to three amazing children. Finally, I’m a firefighter/paramedic for the Saint Lucie County, FL. Fire District. Back on December 12, 2012, my oldest son, Ethan, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder/PDD-NOS. PDD– NOS stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In other words, it’s the diagnosis that’s used for someone who has some, but not all, of the characteristics of autism or who may sometimes have relatively mild symptoms. For instance, a person may have significant autism symptoms in one core area such as social or verbal skills, but have mild or no symptoms in another core area such as repetitive behaviors like stimming.
The early days
I’m one of five boys; the middle one to be exact. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Miami, FL. My life could easily be a movie. I was on a TV show called Fame or Shame. It was an MTV talent show during Spring Break of 1996, I think. I did an impersonation of a T-Rex. It was my 15 minutes of fame. I’ve broken hearts and had mine stepped on a few times. But, that was all part of God’s plan for me to meet the right girl in Sharon. I was a volunteer firefighter in Alachua County but never got hired until Sharon came along. She made me a better man and I got myself the badge. We have been together for 17 years now. We have been to Dublin, Ireland; Las Vegas, NV; N.Y.; Chicago; Canada and Atlantis in the Bahamas to name just a few. Our life has truly been a dream. When we had our first child, we felt like a family. Then, rather suddenly, my son wasn’t acting like his niece and nephews. He cried at family gatherings for hours as a toddler. By his fourth birthday he could only say a few words and was socially awkward around other children. It was at that point that my wife decided to have him evaluated at the Dan Marino Center. He was subsequently diagnosed with Autism.
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