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“A conversation about autism for fathers, mothers, professionals and students. Astrid, a psycho pedagogue (= special needs educationalist) and mother of a youth with autism and an intellectual disability shares her experience in building bridges between herself and Jonathan”.

This is the text of a poster that the organizer of the event, Vision Inclusiva, put out to advertise this coming event in which I will share my experiences with autism on 23rd November in Nicaragua’s capital Managua.

Autism is a relatively new topic in Nicaragua. During the past five years the term ‘autism’ has been used more and more, and has become quite a fashionable word. If you are not quite sure what is happening with your child, the word ‘autism’ is easily used. I have given a few consults to mothers who thought that their child was autistic, as this was confirmed by investigations with special equipment. However, I have the impression that there is a lot of ignorance about who is able to diagnose autism and what is required to make a sound assessment. Many have heard about autism, without really knowing what it is all about.

When I first heard about autism myself, before the birth of my son Jonathan, I realized that people with autism have a special way of living their lives. They live in ‘their’ world and do not seem to have much desire to leave that world, because they have a limitation in relating to other people. Remarkably, with the current techniques, autism will only show itself when a child is about a year and a half old. During the first 18 months an autistic baby appears to develop within common norms, unless he/she also suffers from another disability. For mothers who know little about autism these two facts can be hard to understand and accept. Therefore, when my friend from Vision Inclusiva asked me to share my experience with an audience in Managua, I of course said ‘Yes’.

I am keen to inspire other parents and to give them some ideas of how they can better relate to their child with autism. Of course it is a challenge to address an unknown audience. I think what’s important for them is not the technical story but hearing someone speaking from the heart. But I’m very happy with this opportunity to contribute to creating more understanding for people like Jonathan.
I am excited to be doing this .…!