The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

How children with autism live and study in the USA

'08.02.2018'

Source: Voice of America

Betty Fields is a mother of two children with autism. Every day is scheduled every minute. She uses short walks with the dogs to gather strength and continue raising her sons, whom society has called special, different. But only in words. In reality, in America, children with autism have the same opportunities as all their peers - they study in a regular school and are not isolated from society for a moment.

Municipal authorities are obliged to provide children and teenagers with autism up to 21 the same opportunities that any other child has. In the US, there is a federal program, “Early Steps,” which is designed for children with disabilities under the age of three years. In America, on average, they spend about 30 thousand dollars on the treatment of one child with autism. But there are still a lot of difficulties ...

Photo: video frame golos-ameriki.ru

Betty, Hunter and Colby

"Others, but not worse" - such a tattoo is applied on a woman's body, tells and shows "Voice of America". That is what she is trying to convey to society. The puzzle pieces on the body are a symbol of autism. The names are written on them. All the details are different, like children with autism.

Photo: video frame golos-ameriki.ru

Hunter is 12 years old and Colby is 10. The mother found out about the autism of each of them when the children were just over two years old. The first child did not have pronounced signs - he did not put toys in a row, looked people in the eyes and was cheerful. But over time, my mother began to notice that the boy was different from others. With the second child, she already knew what was happening.

What is the difference between children with autism and how to help them integrate into society?

In the US, about 1 of 68 children suffer from autism. More often these are boys: 1 from 42 boys.

People with autism have a very high emotional sensitivity, they tend to be monotonous, they don’t like eye contact, they tend to do the same thing.

Photo: video frame golos-ameriki.ru

What a person with autism feels

Chriss Lacovaro, a specialist in integrating people with autism into society, says: “If a child suddenly starts to beat in hysterics, it does not mean that he is ill-mannered. Due to the number of people, noise, light, he has an emotional breakdown. We need to give time and he will calm down. ”

“Imagine: you and I can only hear each other, and a person with autism has heightened sensitivity - he hears the sound of a light, a camera, and even the operator’s breathing, all at one loud level! It's a huge stress. ”

Experts advise parents to pay attention to the abilities of children with autism and help them develop talent in those areas that interest them. Hunter collects complex constructors in a matter of minutes, and Kolby creates new designs of roller coasters using computer programs.

Photo: video frame golos-ameriki.ru

Programs for Children with Autism in the USA

About autism is known for about 80 years, and most of this time, parents said: put the children in a special institution and do not tell about them. But gradually the parents began to talk about the problem and fight for the rights of the children.

Today in the United States, children with autism attend mainstream schools. Depending on the child's wishes and abilities, he studies some disciplines according to a special program, and others according to a standard one, in the same class with other children. This is how Betsy's children learn. For one child, help is an understanding teacher, and for another, the constant accompaniment of a curator. These are expensive services, but municipalities are required to provide them to children and adolescents with autism up to age 21. What to do next remains a question for many.

“After 21, they seem to fall off a cliff. There are no programs to help them get a job, keep their jobs, be independent and continue their studies, ”says John Donwan, author of In Another Way: A Story of Autism.

Some states provide people with autism of all ages with low-cost activities that help develop communication skills and integrate into society.

Photo: video frame golos-ameriki.ru

Who is to blame and what to do

Doctors have not yet developed a magic pill for autism. The causes of the disorder are still not clear: there are many theories, from the nutrition of the pregnant mother to the age of the father and the effects of the environment. But for most people, predisposition was observed from birth.

Among the refuted reasons are the connection with the measles, rubella and mumps vaccine, as well as "refrigerator moms", too alienated and cold women who did not love their children enough. “That was theory number one 35 years ago,” Donwan says. “But the autistic mothers I spoke with were the most caring and devoted parents I have ever met.”

Betsy had to come to terms with the fact that her children had autism twice. And her main rule is not to compare her children with others, not to rush, giving them a chance to live in their own way.

“There are people with autism all over the world. Don't ignore them. Try to understand them, ”says Betsy.

Oksana and David

Oksana moved to New York from Minsk on a bride's visa in 2013, and a year after her marriage, she gave birth to a son, David. The boy was born healthy and well developed. Like any mother, she wanted only the best for her child and therefore fulfilled all the recommendations of the doctors, including full vaccination. A day after the MMR vaccination, which was done in 1,5, David had a fever almost to 40 and convulsions began. Three months later, the boy was diagnosed with autism. He stopped speaking, although he had previously had words in XKUMUM around the vocabulary and skillfully used them, became aggressive, lost all interest in his parents and shouted when he was in the company of other children.

Doctors do not bind the vaccine and autism, assuring Oksana that she could not notice these features. The girl has a radically different opinion on this. Now Oksana's family is actively fighting for the normal development of her son.

“We take David to special classes. He is on a gluten-free and case-free diet that is bearing fruit. We buy him special games approved for autists. All my time is spent on a child. Fortunately, the husband earns. Only now I began to see progress: David became calmer, he began to say - “mom”, “dad”, “give” and a few simple words, he does not circle around the room for hours, as he did before. I really hope that with time we will be able to remove the manifestations of autism as much as possible, ”says Oksana.

According to Oksana, she has a lot of friends from different families who are also faced with this trouble.

Special toys for autists

“In the United States there is a federal program,“ Early Steps, ”which is designed for children with disabilities under the age of three years. In America, on average, they spend about 30 thousand dollars on the treatment of one child with autism. It is customary to help such people. Special support centers have been set up for people. Autists are trying to introduce into society. And US residents are very patient with the behavior of autists in public places, ”says Francis Levin, co-founder of the company. Bestie toys.

Chewing necklaces are presented in different colors. Photo: from the personal archive of Bestie Toys

She knows about autism firsthand. Together with his girlfriend Sofia Dvorkina, with whom Francis has been friends for more than 12 years, they worked for some time with children who have an autism spectrum disorder. The girls worked in kindergartens for about 3 years. Sofia worked as a teacher who specializes in the early development of children, and worked with special children at home, helping them to develop social skills. In addition, the girl taught the parents of autists to communicate with their “special” children as efficiently as possible. Francis also worked in kindergartens, helping children grow.

At some point, the girls felt the need to create a product that could help autists in combating the problem of sensory integration dysfunction.

“Children with sensory integration dysfunction may be too sensitive or insensitive, and because of this, their brains are“ overloaded ”and they start repeating the same movements, hyperactively behave, fidget or chew something inappropriate,” Sofia says .

To help children deal with this problem, the girls came up with chewing toys, which are a safe alternative to non-edible things, biting other people, thumb sucking, oral fixation and sensory searches.

The company appeared in 2017 year and received the name Bestie toys. Bestie toys helps children, parents, physiotherapists, schools, clinics and organizations that deal with children with special needs.

Founders of the project. Photo: from the personal archive of Bestie Toys

Bestie toys is a necklace with a rubber toy made from 100-percent non-toxic food-grade silicone. The toy is presented in three designs and in nine different colors. Useful invention approved Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, of course, dentists.

If you want to know more about how ordinary American women are fighting for the right of children with autism to feel like full members of society - read the story: How two friends created useful toys and contributed to the fight against autism.

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