We are Anselmo and Carmen, the adoptive parents of Àlex (born in 2002) and Vika (born in 2004), both from Russia.
Àlex arrived at our family when he was 18 months old. After a few months with us, his physical condition was improving, but from the time when he was 2 years old, some peculiar features in his behavior became evident. These got more pronounced as he grew: excessive and uncontrollable hyperactivity, fears and insecurities, trouble fixing his sight on someone else; his vocabulary was diminishing and he used to repeat words without any sense, he did not relate to other children, he had hyper sensibility to loud sounds, disconnection from his environment, etc. We consulted several doctors in search for an answer, but as Àlex was so young all the doctors told us the same thing: he was showing emotional disturbance due to a severe emotional lack suffered during the first 18 months of his life.
In 2008, when Àlex was 6 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Attention Service Carrilet (ASC) in Barcelona. The news was very painful, but at the same time we felt relief, because, after years of unanswered questions, we were informed of how to help our son. Finally, we could concentrate our efforts on giving Àlex specialized care for his disability, therapeutic resources needed for his development and improvement, relieving his suffering this way. All these treatments were of private access, never covered by the Public Health Service, so until now, we (the parents) have covered all the costs.
In 2011, Crit Gossos d’Assistència de Catalunya an association of assistant dogs (formerly Somriures CTAC) granted Àlex an assistant dog named Cala, classified as a dog for people with ASD without any cost for the family. It quickly became his faithful friend helping him feel confident in his environment and forging stable affectionate bonds, bringing out emotions, and giving him warmth, companionship and well-being.
In these years of effort, perseverance and dedication, Àlex has matured, he has a wide vocabulary both in Catalan and Spanish, asks questions to himself and to others, and makes himself understood. He shows interest in learning, likes to collaborate and participate, and gets entertained with his games. He likes to discover the world around him. He is also able to think independently, interact with others and organize his routines with increasingly autonomy. He even tries to joke (!)- Something unthinkable just a while ago. Thus, positive changes and his personal progress are perceived.
If Àlex continues receiving specialized therapeutic treatments, this will benefit his development and his life’s quality, and will allow Àlex, surely with some limits, to be a functional and independent adult. Autism is a developmental disorder that manifests from childhood, for which no cure is known and which requires a constant treatment very challenging in many aspects, economically as well. If Àlex stops receiving the necessary and vital professional support in these crucial years to his development, it will affect his life and immediate future with very serious limitations.
Let me explain. I lost my job in 2011 and Anselmo, my husband, lost his in 2013. This substantially reduced our financial means and although Anselmo soon found a new job, the overall situation has not improved enough as the economic crisis has meant adjustments in salary and employment’s conditions.
We have decided to carry out this Solidarity Call consisting in raising funds for Àlex’s treatments just not to lose years of painstaking work done until today and also not to reduce our son’s life prospects, all this caused by the precarious circumstances we are going through, which we hope will be fleeting.
We know that this economic crisis is affecting badly thousands of lives and households, not only in our country. Each case has its own face and name, with its own dramas and stories to tell. We have decided to make our story known, to present our case and seek support outside, among people who can help us, and make Àlex’s life more dignified.
Any contribution, no matter how insignificant it may seem will be welcomed, hoped for and sincerely appreciated, because it will mean that we will be able to continue with Àlex’s treatments. Àlex is today the way he is thanks to the help of psychotherapy received from professionals. Àlex has changed a lot but he must change even more, and to accomplish that he needs professional help. Educating a child with ASD is a ceaseless effort, intense and prolonged in time. It is like a long distance race, with obstacles, several stages and relays along the way. Its goal is far, but it is a rewarding one – a full and happy life.
Thank you all for reading it to the end.
Anselmo and Carmen,