Today a most remarkable thing happened. Our team member Amy is a mother of a son with autism. While presenting our workshops, we decided it was best to give a real life example of being a mother of an autistic child. Remember, no one we have met has ever met a mother or father of a child with autism. So her story mesmerized the audience whose eyes and ears were fixed on Amy’s every word. Her discussion brought about many questions. They were convinced that her son was not happy as he could not read other’s facial expressions, therefore he must not show any expression himself. Or, he did not understand jokes, therefore he could not be happy. So Amy decided it was time to show the staff a picture of her son with her entire family. That made everyone surprised and silent. He looked so normal! So we had to explain that she and her family, with support of teachers and therapists helped her son to be what he is today.
The story, though different in other parts of the world, is similar in many ways. What is autism? How can we help children with autism? The questions were similar to those we hear in the US. The challenge here is to balance the degree of information provided, by what the staff can absorb. We did cover a great deal of iinformation, so on Friday, we will see how much has been learned.
Our journey ends in Sanmenxia today. Pray for us that we have a safe trip to Xian and then home on Saturday. I’ll try to post soon, to share the final moments at our mission.