Abrazos FoundationAutism in Cusco, Peru
In 2014, I visited Cusco Peru. I stayed with a Dutch foundation called Abrazos for about a month, capturing their work. They help autistic children and their families to live a normal life as far as possible. During my stay, I captured stories of some of these children.
John13 years old
John doesn't talk, he just mumbles. He doesn't smile often, but when he does, it's a great smile.
John can get aggressive, specially when he's afraid or when he feels somebody else - his mother - is afraid.
It is difficult for John to go outside the house. He is afraid. Every time they try to walk a bit further and often it goes very well. Until he gets spooked, then they'll have to start all over again.
Two years after my visit in 2014, things haven't changed much. Changes take time, lots of time. According to his father to much time, so he unfortunately stopped treatment.
Eva-Maria5 years old
Eva-Maria's mother is very proud of her daughter. She understands the difficulties of her autism, but does everything in her power to provide for a good life for her.
While making music, Eva-Maria can lose herself. To teach her about time and structure, a timer is set. After that a different game is played.
That structure is not a problem, as the next thing on the "to do" list is finger painting. And that to is one of Eva's favourite things to do.
Eva-Maria and her family moved away. When in 2016 things started to get worse, her mother took Eva back to Abrazos by bus. That helped, now she comes once a week.
Yasmin3 years old
When I enter the house of Yasmin and her family, it's time for lunch.
Her mother tells me that whenever it takes to long before food is served, Yasmin becomes unmanageable.
Her family tries to take good care of their daughter, but it's difficult in a city as big and challenging Cusco.
Abrazos was only treating this girl briefly as her family returned back to her birth village. They unfortunately don't know how she's doing now.
Parents visiting the headquarters of Abrazos, are sometimes being told their child has autism by a doctor. Regardless the help of Abrazos, that does come as a shock.
At Abrazos headquaters, children come to puzzle and play. Through personal attention and with lots of toys, the children can enjoy theirselves and learn in a safe surrounding.
Every week, children visit Abrazos. Sometimes they play games, other times they do sports or they learn how to cook.
With pictograms, the children are taught what to do and what not to do.
And of course after their delicious Dutch apple pie is ready, they can eat it themselves.
It's fun to be at Abrazos headquaters, as you get to do fun stuff and meet your friends.