by SHYANNE LOPEZ | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Speaking Up for the Spectrum

volunteer_sicile2Over 20 years ago, Chantal Sicile-Kira’s husband was transferred from his job at the Legoland resort in the United Kingdom to the park in Carlsbad. With their children Jeremy and Rebecca, both born in France, the adventurous family settled happily in San Diego. Now a long-time resident of Carmel Valley, Chantal can’t hide her admiration: “I love it because of the kind neighbors, wonderful schools, and proximity to my favorite place, Torrey Pines State Park.”

It was in San Diego that Chantal strengthened her journey as an advocate for families with autism, which began after her son was diagnosed. Chantal ultimately wrote a book explaining autism with practical advice for parents and educators. In 2005, Chantal’s book went on to win the Outstanding Literary Book of the Year Award from the Autism Society of America (ASA). “After I made my acceptance speech in front of an audience of 2,000 parents and professionals at the national ASA conference that year, l received many invitations to speak,” Chantal recalled. “Since then, I have received other awards for my books and awards for my work as an advocate in the autism community.”


Name: Chantal Sicile-Kira
Community: Carmel Village in Carmel Valley
Volunteer Affiliation: National Foundation for Autism Research; San Diego International Film Festival
Profession: Speaker, author, and art representative
Family: Married with two children, two cats, and one dog
Hobbies: Cooking, eating with friends, reading, hiking, movies, going to museums, traveling
Favorite Spots in 92130: Torrey Pines State Natural Park (not exactly 92130), Spices Thai Cafe, Vons, all the stores and restaurants in Del Mar Highlands Town Center, Jimbo’s


volunteer_sicile3In addition to giving speeches, this determined mother has become an active volunteer with various national organizations such as National Autism Association and Autism Speaks. Locally, Chantal volunteers with both the San Diego International Film Festival and the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR). “All money raised by NFAR stays in the San Diego area to provide programs that support families with autism,” said Chantal. “They have a great pilot program for teaching computer skills to teens and young adults with autism, and connecting them to work after the training.” For those interested, Chantal recommends volunteering for their Race for Autism event in Balboa Park on March 25.

Another important chapter in Chantal’s journey is her son’s art career. Jeremy is now 28 and works as an artist, painting and describing the colorful auras of his clients. Chantal is inspired by her son’s determination and is an art representative for his work, offering, “I am the quarterback to my son’s art career.” Learn more about Jeremy’s art at www.jeremysvision.com.

Today, Chantal continues her work of volunteering and inspiring others with her words. “I love changing people’s perceptions – providing hope when there is none,” she shared. “They realize they are resilient and capable. And this is true of all audiences – not just the autism or disability community.” Learn more about Chantal’s mission at www.autismcollege.com.

volunteer_sicile4


Group: National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR)
Mission: To help in the development, expansion, and support of autism programs and services that improve the quality of life for children and young adults on the autism spectrum and their families.
Contact: 858-679-8800
Website: www.nfar.org