The 'Crystal Children” Association
The “Crystal Children” Association was established in 2006, in Brașov, by a group of parents having children with autism and other associated disorders, because there was the will and, at the same time, the necessity to give these children the chance to benefit from support services and specialized therapy, which, unfortunately, lack from the public assistance guaranteed by the Romanian state.
Our goal is to create and develop support services for the families of patients suffering from various autism spectrum disorders and other neuropsychiatric conditions. Today, we offer free materials with information about children’s conditions, family counseling – parents, siblings and grandparents – through support groups and thematic meetings, specialized therapy sessions with supervision, access to the latest information through the strategic partnerships we have concluded over time, etc.
In the 12 years of operation, we have established the Center for Evaluation and Recovery through Specialized Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and other associated disorders. Then, we opened the Teenagers and Adult Day Center, which operates on the first floor of the former Primary and Lower Secondary School no. 24, from Aurel Vlaicu Street, no. 26 bis in Brașov, where they learn how to become independent and autonomous. In 2014, we expanded our activity, due to the increasing number of beneficiaries, at the headquarters of the new Multipurpose Social Services Center on Panselelor Street, no. 23, the realization of which was possible through the non-reimbursable financing from Brașov City Hall through a project funded by POR, Axis 1, where we are partners with other NGOs in the city.
For our young and adult beneficiaries, we make efforts to integrate them into the labor market, in sheltered workshops. In 2016, we launched a project to this end, setting the foundation for the first social economy enterprise (I.E.S.) dedicated to people with autistic spectrum disorders called “A Future for Autistic Young People”, which aims at employing at least 5 young beneficiaries of our association or their parents in the first phase, as IES employees, by the end of the project. Being the first and the only IES dedicated to people with autism spectrum disorders, we want to become a model for other associations in the country, to show that we can, so that we encourage the emergence of other IES with this specific in the other counties of the country.
The Crystal Children Association is a founding member of the FEDRA (The Federation for Rights and Resources of People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders): www.autismfedra.ro. The Federation aims to create and maintain an appropriate environment for stimulating and supporting people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families.
FEDRA is a member of Autism Europe Organization: www.autismeurope.org
The Therapists’ Team of the Crystal Children Association is made up of 10 professionals in the areas of psycho-pedagogy, clinical psychology and kinetotherapy. At present, the association assists 73 beneficiaries per day, aged between 2 and 57 years. Many of them come from families with modest incomes to whom the association pays for partial or full therapies through fund-raising and charity events.
This is the biggest problem that we have to face each month: therapy payment for social cases, which are more and more numerous. And it is harder to get donations.
Who are the beneficiaries
of 'Crystal Children' Association
Nowadays, we are attending over 73 beneficiaries (there are some with remote assistance, in other counties or abroad) aged between 2 and 57 years, and many of them are social cases. The young follow the ABA rehabilitation therapy sessions, the main objective for them is to integrate them into the mainstream education. Adolescents and adults come daily to the Association Day Center at Occupational Therapy classes, where they are permanently assisted by therapists and volunteers. With their help, our beneficiaries make hand-made items (decorations, jewelry, jewelry boxes, glass paintings, greetings, etc.). In 2013, with the funds from the 2% redirection of income tax, we were able to put together a candle shop. Thus, our beneficiaries, assisted by therapists and volunteers, make candles in this workshop, which are then sold on a commission basis. All the products made by them are presented at sales exhibitions at all events organized for the benefit of the “Crystal Children” Association. Unfortunately, the income from these activities is low and sporadic.
In parallel, children, young people and adults attend kinetotherapy, play therapy, 3C therapy (coordination, concentration and awareness) etc.
The target group of our activity is the over 360 registered families in the data base participating in the activities as well as the other members of Braşov County communities who have family members diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or neuropsychiatric conditions.
A success for the “Crystal Children” Association and for the families we work with is that about 50% of our beneficiaries (children and adolescents) are integrated into mainstream education, kindergartens and schools, where they go alone or with an attendant.
What are the services offered by the „Crystal Children” Association
- ABA Therapy
- The Occupational Therapy
- Play and Drama Therapy
- 3C Therapy (Concentration. Coordination. Awareness-raising)
- Assisted Animal Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Evaluation and Development of a Specialized Intervention Schedule
- Continuous Surveillance of Therapies
In December 2015, on the International Day of People with Disabilities, the “Crystal Children” Association inaugurated the Sensory Chamber within the Center for Evaluation and Recovery through Specialized Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and other associated disorders.
Sensory room is an environment in which stimulating activities and experiences are used to increase awareness and positive behaviors for people with severe sensory impairments or neurological problems. Therapists carry out activities that stimulate children’s senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, etc.).
The provision and arrangement of the Sensory Chamber were possible thanks to the Fundraising Campaign and the “Open Your Heart” Charity Gala organized by the Kronospan Foundation in late 2014.
The activities of the “Crystal Children” Association
We periodically organize information activities and awareness of autism spectrum disorders. Thus, in partnership with Transilvania University – The Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, The Faculty of Sociology and Communication – The Department of Social Assistance, The Faculty of Medicine and County School Inspectorate Brașov, we hold conferences, workshops and film screenings, attended by representatives of these institutions, students, parents of children with ASD, therapists, and volunteers.
At the same time, the “Crystal Children” Association event agenda includes artistic activities having a charitable character, to which the invited artists participate pro bono. The funds obtained from these events support the therapy beneficiaries who are social cases.
Every year, during the period April 1-2, we join the global campaign to mark the World Autism Awareness Day (2 April). Thus, during those days, symbolic buildings in Brașov (the Council House, the City Hall, The Fortress of Brașov City) are lighted in blue (the color that symbolizes autism) and, in partnership with the local authorities, we carry out a series of actions and events dedicated to children with autism and addressed to the entire local community.
In addition, as people with autism spectrum disorders are usually isolated, with no opportunities for leisure and socializing, our association offers a combination of specific therapeutic programs and an educational program centered on the development of independent life skills, which increases our beneficiaries’ capacity of learning and relating, while reducing the severity and frequency of unwanted behaviors.
Therefore, together with the Association team and volunteers, we organize fun and recreational activities for our beneficiaries, taking place within the Day Center, and in the real environment, outside therapy, we focus on enhancing skills acquired through tours, outdoor equine therapy (riding therapy) at the Equine Centre from Cișmașu – Hărman, at the city playgrounds (at the Stop Discrimination Park, a project developed in partnership with the municipality of Brașov), at the Zoo, we do cycling, at the Olympic Swimming Pool in Brasov (twice a week, beneficiaries go to the swimming pool, free of charge, within the project “Autism makes waves” developed in partnership with the Directorate of Sports in Brașov), etc.
In 2017, with the help of the Foundation For Children we have begun working with Globe Aware, a foundation in the USA. They helped our organization with funds and volunteers to renovate the Day Center for adults with Autism and Down Syndrome and to begin setting up the Adult Center with Autism and Down Syndrome (here will live our children after their parents are gone).
The Residential Center is located in Lunca Câlnicului, Prejmer commune in Braşov County, in the area of a former kindergarten. The building has one floor and the project provides 20 en suite rooms, therapy rooms, dining room, kitchen, medical cabinet, surveillance camps for social workers, a solar where young people will grow vegetables, a small farm where they will grow yard animals. The products obtained will be used for their own consumption. The space provided by the Prejmer City Hall is 3000 square meters. An extension is also envisaged in order to provide all the necessary facilities.
We are aware that it will take several years before it can be put into use, but the fact that we are doing this for our children motivates us to go further despite all the difficulties. More information about our activities and projects is available on our website: www.copiiidecristal.ro.
President Gabriela Plopeanu