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← Glances of autism | Carina Morillo | TEDxRíodelaPlata

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Showing Revision 12 created 06/07/2017 by Ivana Korom.

  1. "Look at me!"
  2. That phrase turned me
    into an eye-contact coach.
  3. I the mother of Ivan; he's 15 years old.
  4. Ivan has autism, he doesn't speak,
  5. and he communicates through an iPad,
  6. where his whole universe of words
    exists in images.
  7. He was diagnosed
    when he was two and a half.
  8. I still remember that day painfully.
  9. My husband and I felt really lost;
  10. we didn't know where to start.
  11. There was no Internet,
  12. you couldn't Google information,
  13. so we made those first steps
  14. out of sheer intuition.
  15. Ivan would not maintain eye contact,
  16. he had lost the words that he did know,
  17. he didn't respond to his name,
  18. or to anything we asked him,
  19. as if words were noise.
  20. The only way I could know
  21. what was going on, what he felt,
  22. was looking him in the eye.
  23. But that bridge was broken.
  24. How could I teach him about life?
  25. When I did things he liked,
    he would look at me;
  26. and we were connected.
  27. So I dedicated myself
    to working with him on those things,
  28. so we would have more and more
    eye-contact moments.
  29. We would spend hours and hours playing tag
  30. with her older sister, Alexia,
  31. and when we said, "I caught you!"
  32. he would look around for us,
  33. and, at that moment,
    I could feel he was alive.
  34. We also hold a record of hours
    spent in a swimming pool.
  35. Ivan always had a passion for water.
  36. I remember when he was two and a half,
  37. on a rainy winter day,
  38. I was taking him to an indoor pool,
  39. because even on rainy days
    we'd go swimming.
  40. We were on the highway,
  41. and I took the wrong exit.
  42. He burst into tears and cried
    inconsolably, non stop,
  43. until I turned back.
  44. Only then did he calm down.
  45. How was it possible
    that a two and a half year old
  46. didn't respond to his own name,
  47. yet in the middle of the rain and fog,
    where I couldn't see anything,
  48. he knew the exact route?
  49. That is when I realized that Ivan
    had an exceptional visual memory
  50. and that this would be my way in.
  51. So I started
    taking pictures of everything,
  52. and teaching him what life was like,
  53. showing it to him, picture by picture.
  54. Even now it's the way Ivan communicates
  55. what he wants, what he needs,
  56. and also what he feels.
  57. But it wasn't just
    Ivan's eye contact that mattered.
  58. Everyone else's did, too.
  59. How could I make people see
    not only his autism,
  60. but see him, the person,
  61. and everything he can give;
  62. everything he can do;
  63. the things he likes and doesn't like,
  64. just like any one of us?
  65. But for that I also had to give of myself.
  66. I had to have the strength to let him go,
  67. which was extremely difficult.
  68. Ivan was 11 years old,
  69. and he went for treatment
    in a neighborhood near our house.
  70. One afternoon,
    while I was waiting for him,
  71. I went into a greengrocer,
  72. a typical neighborhood store
    with a little bit of everything.
  73. While doing the shopping,
  74. I started talking to Jose, the owner.
  75. I told him that Ivan had autism,
  76. and that I wanted him to learn
    to walk down the street by himself,
  77. without anyone holding his hand.
  78. So I decided to ask Jose
  79. if Thursdays around 2 pm,
  80. Ivan could come and help him arrange
    the water bottles of the shelves,
  81. because he loved to organize things.
  82. And as a reward, he could buy
    some chocolate cookies,
  83. which were his favorite.
  84. He accepted right away.
  85. So that's how it went for a year:
  86. Ivan would go to Jose's greengrocer,
  87. help him arrange the shelves
    of water bottles,
  88. with the labels perfectly
    lined up on the same side
  89. and he would leave happy
    with his chocolate cookies.
  90. Jose is not an expert in autism.
  91. There is no need to be an expert,
  92. nor do anything heroic to include someone.
  93. We just need to be there -
  94. (Applause)
  95. (Applause ends)
  96. Really, no heroic deed --
  97. we simply need to be close.
  98. And if we are afraid of something
  99. or we don't understand something,
  100. we need to ask.
  101. Let's be curious
  102. but never indifferent.
  103. Let's have the courage
    to look each other in the eye,
  104. because by looking,
  105. we can open a whole world to someone else.
  106. (Applause)
  107. (Cheers)
  108. (Applause)
  109. Thank you so much, thank you!
  110. (Applause)