My own experience of working with people with special needs.
I remember the first day when we opened the door and entered Ancaar (Centre of autism). I was a volunteer who has never worked with people with disabilities and have not an experience of working with them. Everything seemed so strange, sometimes even repellent. The adaptation period was quite long. Even now there are many details which I need to learn and accept. It was long and difficult. There were people with different problems who gave the impression of one group without any difference. But each of them has her/his own problems and the need of individual attitude and attention towards them.
Glances, strange voices...stop. But where is their fault? Where are they guilty that they live in that life? Every working day has changed and still continues changing me. Sometimes I felt very strange, unnecessary because every worker had his/her own work, agenda, therapies and exercises. But we need to understand that for them our movements, your voice are also strange sometimes. They also can be afraid of you because you are a foreigner for them. Sometimes the time has passed in a very difficult way. But it was work, 2-3-hours work. But there were cases when I counted every second when I would finish and go home. But many things have been changed during the time. And I understood that maybe they don't need special attitude towards them. Sometimes our presence is already important and useful for them because it helps them to adopt the environment, to learn being in a group, not to be afraid and smile.
Months have passed...Now I enter the same centre, open the same door, but now I am not the same. I enter and I cannot explain my feelings with words. They recognize me, smile, greet me, some of them try to remember my naem - Elena? The right one is Lena, but anyway, they try to pronounce it. It is the biggest achievement for me. It is the most important result of my work and my patience which I enjoy now. I already feel trust from their side. I already can communicate with my Romanian and sometimes understand their jokes. A real happiness is in simplicity. To walk in a simple way, to sit, to listen, to keep silence and smile.
There were moments when I wanted to leave the centre and never come back. But then I persuaded me that it was my decision and I don't have the right to leave. In spite of difficulties,
I have decided to help, to work with them till the end of my project. I give my time and attention to them without waiting for something back. I just want to leave some kind steps after me in this world. And their smiles are already those traces which will stay in my memory forever. I feel inside calmness.
Help, wait, believe, and smile without any expectations because life is unpredictable. You don’t know your tomorrow. Their parents also didn’t think that one day their children would be with disabilities and they would be the only responsible persons for them.