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Children still grow up separated from their families in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The day to speak out about what many prefer to keep in secret
On 2 April 2017 the members of the club “Angelochek” (a small angel), which consists of the parents raising children with autism, organized a small event with the support of the Entertainment Trade Center “Samarqand Darvoza”.
When we talk about ‘being different’, we must start with the parents: some still have a hard time accepting the diagnosis of their children, they try to hide them and their condition from society; others use a chance to speak out about autism and try to raise awareness among public with the hope to make life easier for their children.
One of the parents, Farhad Artikbaevinitiated the club. He does a lot of social work to support children with disabilities and their parents. To raise awareness Farhad suggested arranging a photo exhibition of children living with autism. This photo exhibition was displayed on the second floor of the trade center for people to see the beauty of these “differently-abled” children.
Children of the club members also gathered here. Some of them happily observed the visitors, while others just sat thoughtfully aside. The administration of “Samarqand Darvoza” organized a giant bubble show, the face-art stand, animators entertaining the children by wearing suits of cartoon heroes. A big banner next to the photo exhibition invited visitors to a photo opportunity on this important occasion. Some of them left their palm-print on a white board as a sign of their pledge to the cause.
Some of the children and parents chose to share their views and insight into their lives with us. One of them, Irina Karieva, a defectologist and speech therapist by specialty, mother of Valentin, a tall handsome 15-year-old boy said that she is very pleased to see the activity on raising awareness in the society.
“However I am concerned about the future and socialization of my son and other kids who are growing up,” she said. “How do we achieve that? All of our children are different, some of them get home-based education, and others go to boarding schools. There is a lack of specialized professional and qualified approach using the newest methodologies in teaching children with autistic spectrum disorder. There are no trained specialists like tutors or volunteers, for example. It concerns physical training as well. In sports sections we face the same issues of the lack of professional individual approach. Our children are talented in many aspects, some of them even possess unique capabilities, that is why we really want their potential to be fulfilled.”
While we listened intently to their conversation with the club members, we didn’t see anything unusual that would make these children “different”, except for maybe the amazing expressions on their faces and eyes.
It is so important that children are loved and accepted. First in the family, which is not ashamed or scared to raise an autistic child, invest in his/her potential and mingle the child with the society. And then in the society, which means creating safe environment and conditions for them to develop their maximal potential and realize their rights just like any other child.
Photography by Evgeniy Sorochin