CRYSTAL CHILDREN

... at first it was the pain ...

I am sorry to be the one to tell you, but your children are autistic.” (trad. rom. = Îmi pare rău că trebuie să vă spun eu asta, dar copiii dumneavoastră au autism)”.

I was in an inner state of impenetrability; the lady’s words in front of me were so distant from me.

AUTISM! I did not know anyone to talk about this, which would give me the hope that my boys would be fine.

What made my children different from the others finally had a name. All I have to do is read about it and find solutions. However, why did not any Romanian say this to me, it has been almost two years since I wonder what is happening to them: they do not talk, they do not play with the other children, they are always preoccupied and seem to be thinking. They are only 3 years old! What can a 3-year-old child think of?

The lady continued to speak:” Do not be scared, we’re all a little autistic; it is good if you start therapy early. I leave you some materials to work with.”

I leave you some materials to work with.” He handed me a box. I opened it. Inside, there were some pictures of various objects. She showed me how the children should match them: lace with boot, toothpaste with toothbrush …

I could not hear her anymore, I could not concentrate on anything. I wanted everyone to go away, take my children in my arms and run. But where should I run?

We did not even have a “home”. And then, my boys did not always let me take them in my arms …

So, that’s it, I will feel sorry for myself another time, now my boys depend on me. There is no time to lose; time is running out of their lives.

However, money is needed for this therapy that the lady has told me about. And I do not have it. So, what should I start with?

It was the moment when the Good God Above, whom I did not know then as I know now, took my hand and showed me the path, brought us together, a group of parents who did not want to accept that there was nothing to be done for their children.

At first, in 2006, we used to meet and share our experiences, we gathered wherever we found a place, we invited doctors or psychologists to talk to in order to understand what autism is, if there are children who have defeated this disorder … In the country, I did not have many examples of good practice, I started looking over the Internet and I found out that are therapists in Bucharest who had been trained in England or the United States. I backed down when I found out that the monthly therapy costs 3,000 euros for a child. An astronomical figure for us. I started looking for another way.

Once again, the Good God Above has not left us. One spring, while I was running an awareness campaign on autism with the parents, a lady approached our tent on Diaconu Coresi Street and asked for a leaflet. She called me a few days later. She was from Brașov, established in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, leading a foundation for children in Romania. She wanted to visit us; she was staying for a few more days in Brașov. It was the spring of 2008, for several days we were allowed access within the space of the former Primary and Lower-Secondary School no. 24, on the first floor, in order to start arranging a center for our children. It was the first helping hand we received from the City Hall of Brașov. We invited her to visit us the following day. At the time, all parents used to meet to clean up. The lady came and we met. Loredana Mavrodin, along with her colleague, Hubb Drent. Since then, together with her colleagues from For Children Foundation, she became our support. Thanks to them, I met Michelle Younghusband, the ABA therapist in Australia. She came to Brașov the following summer and stayed for two weeks, taught us how to help our children, and trained volunteers from the center to work with the children.

Then, I met Ioana Serb and Sue Jennings who introduced us into the mysteries of Therapy through Game and Drama therapy. With money from the Brașov County Council, we trained 4 therapists in this therapy to work with our children.

In time, the people from Braşov found about us and we started to get help in oredr to set up the first center for therapy and intervention specializing in autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and associated disorders.

I am sure everyone with autistic children has gone through the initial shock, that of finding out your child’s diagnosis. You have had your moment of despair, of panic, of helplessness. Only someone who has gone through this can understand. But my dear ones, now we have both hope and trust. Because now we have the Therapy Center of Crystal Children Association!

Gabriela Plopeanu