Message from the Executive Director

Perspectivei35j "What Connects People? c Across The Word Barrier"

@Words are very important for communication. But we can still build a connection with one another without great verbal communication. This time, Ifll introduce the therapeutic care of a child who came from a foreign country, and experiences and things I learned abroad where itfs hard to communicate using words.

An Indonesian boy A (Aged 4) was diagnosed with autism in his country. His father came to study developmental psychology and developmental disabilities at K University. He came to one of our centers, Awaji Kodomoen, to work as an intern on the recommendation of a professor at the university. He wanted to study the understanding and support of an autistic child in the field. His wife and his son A came to Japan at a later date.
@The staff in charge of A was mid-level staff, Ms. M. She interacted with A with the passion that she would become someone necessary to him. She tried to understand what kinds of things he was interested in, how he grasped circumstances or followed someonefs movements, and how he accepted the stafffs support; whether he understood or accepted things while paying attention to his eye movements, changes in facial expression, and voluntary actions. She couldnft speak Indonesian, so she used Japanese, and facial expressions and gestures, and tried to provide support so that he could be comfortable doing things he enjoyed with her. She helped him when he was trouble, and comforted him when he was nervous. As she supported him with patience, he steadily got used to her, and his facial expressions softened, he smiled more, he would pull her hand and request things, and enjoyed being held.
@One day, his loitering around his parents stood out to her. I asked his father who could understand Japanese, whether something had happened, because he acted different to usual, and his father said that there had been a fight between the parents due to a misunderstanding. I guessed the reason why he was not relaxed was because he was worried about them. Then, I thought it was necessary to regulate their relationship, so I decided to listen to each story with the fatherfs interpretation. While we were talking, their facial expressions and attitudes started to soften. Then, A went to sit on his motherfs lap and looked straight into his fatherfs face as if in response to this. I believe he saw his precious parentsf relationship starting to repair, and felt the mood changing from their tone of voice, facial expressions and attitudes, and felt relieved.

Another child was a boy, B from the U.K.. I met him at a special-needs school run by the Autism Society in London during my overseas training. He stood on the slide in the school playground and stared at me, the guest from Japan, with a tense look. I felt strong interest, wariness and conflict from his sharp glance, so I held out my hand while gently saying gHello!h. And then he came down from the slide to take my hand. When I went with the flow and squatted down into a Japanese style piggyback position, he held onto my back. I could sense his feelings of desperation through his way of holding on, almost choking my neck. I lifted his butt a bit and placed both his hands onto my shoulders to fit him more comfortably into the piggyback. As he started to loosen and his facial expressions started to warm, I played with the children who came near us, all the while holding him. I told the president about him, who exclaimed, surprised, gHefs never approached a guest before.h

@Meeting A and B taught me that all children are desperately looking for someone who can acknowledge their feelings and that there are things that can connect people across the word barrier. I felt sure that the sense of security which is built between people is a key concept in therapeutic care and the wish of children across the world.

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