Last week while in Brussels, we had the pleasure of staying a night at the home of Robert (Rashele's Godfather) and his girlfriend Danielle.
They are two wonderfully giving people and they showed us a great time last week.
Robert is a member of the Rotary Club in Brussels. The cause that they've adopted as a chapter is to raise autism awareness. I don't know how or why they chose that, or if it even had anything to do with Mason. We appreciate their efforts as Autism as we all know is not a problem local to only the U.S.
While staying with them, Robert invited a member of their Rotary Club over for dinner last Monday evening. Her name is Maryline, and she is the only female member of the chapter and got involved after learning that the chapter was choosing autism as their cause.
She joined them because her 11 year old son Sebastian was diagnosed with autism at age 4. She is a Research Psychologist for School & Family Orientation. She wants to see improvements made in how autism is diagnosed and treated in Europe, as well as see a rise in awareness.
We spoke at length about both of our children, and I was awestruck at the similarities in our stories, at the things our children did, and at the difficulty in getting an autism diagnosis, and at the struggles we continue to have today. She like many here in the U.S. had her concerns completely dismissed by her son's doctor, but she continued on until she got the diagnosis that she knew was correct.
A mother's intuition is universal.
Rashele and I learned that services in Belgium and even throughout Europe in general are much harder to come by than here in the United States. Because of socialized medicine it is very difficult to find therapists specializing in speech, occupational therapy, etc. And as recently as 3 years ago, ANYONE could call themselves a therapist without the need of any type of certification. Thankfully that has changed.
I asked her what the statistics were of children in Belgium being affected by Autism. She said there were no statstics, as no one is keeping any on any broad scale.
Things need to change.
Maryline asked a lot of questions about our therapies here, and our education system in general. She was very curious to understand how our system worked and how theirs could be improved. She feels as if Belgium is today, where the United States was 20 years ago in dealing with autism.
Again, things need to change WORLDWIDE.