Lifelong Learning Programme

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Personal Experience

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Welcome and not assistance

Language: English
Country: Italy
Typology: patients and relatives
Twenty years ago, my partner and I decided to have a baby. We longed for it, tried and tried and, at last, Federico was born. He was as nice as the sun. But, after some months, we realised some strange behaviours in Federico: he swinged continuously, he always turned himself to the heating, he was strongly attracted by laces and elastic bands and he passed them from one hand to the other. When he learned to walk, he was fifteen months, he learned to run too, and he started running away a lot. What patience and strength to follow him!!! We have always had many difficulties to communicate with him and sometimes it seemed impossible, because of his incomprehensible behaviour and lack of any kind of language. He always ran away, he always turned his eyes to somewhere else, very little ability to concentrate, he was afraid of nothing, he was full of stereotypies. In situations like this, we have often wondered: “HOW CAN WE GET IN TOUCH AND HAVE AN ORDINARY LIFE, WITH A FELLOW LIKE THAT?”. Any efforts seemed useless. It was also useless the lullabies, the chants, the funfairs, the holidays at the seaside, in the mountains, riding a bike. Even going to school seemed a waste of time: the elementary, the middle school, the high school now. We had the feeling that we were in front of a wall that drove back everything we did. All these contributed to our anxiety and frustrations. But, after so many years, something has changed and now I dare to say: “EVERYTHING SEEMED”. What we did in the past hasn’t been useless, because in the meanwhile Federico has had a long but continuous evolution unseen by our eyes for a lot of time. At least there is a crack in that wall and we both are trying to widen it so that the wall can fell down. At the beginning, what I found really difficult to understand was the fact that Federico needed his own time to get in touch with the external world. But, since this time has been very long, it wasn’t easy to realize it. Now Federico is more and more present and this fact has contributed to improve our relations. The distance between us is shorter and shorter. He doesn’t run away anymore but he has learned to walk next to the people, he doesn’t want to be taken by hands when we walk. He knows how to manage and organize his time, he is able to stay longer in his class, he needs a lot of time to do his homework, but mainly he begins to desire to get in touch with other people and to do what any teenagers wants to. Now I can assert that what seemed useless is now giving some outcomes. Everything the school and we, the family, have done so far is essential. The nursery school, the elementary, the middle and, now, even the high school, have been fundamental for his growth both behavioural and cognitive. All the teachers have contributed to it. This is the story of my years spent with Federico. From this experience, I have learned that any person has his own time to fit himself to the life and people like Federico take much longer time. So, we have to respect this time, but not only the family because we are just a part of one individual’s life. It is very important also the school where any boy spends an important part of his young life building up his life and learning to be part of a society. Basic are also the friends with whom they do what is not possible with the parents. Any of us has a task to enter the world of the different capable. To realize this, I think it is important to change our mental approach: from the assistance to the welcome. To welcome leads to the integration, that is to share naturally any moments of the life, while the assistance leads to put the person aside. In this period, Federico is trying to do his best, but we have to be very careful because he won’t be put aside again. Giuseppe

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