Young people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome would very much like to meet Pope Francis, but attending World Youth Day in Krakow will be difficult for them due to the crowds and noise. So together with the JiM Foundation, they have organized a campaign to show how important the Pope's arrival in Poland is to them.
A social campaign will be launched on Wednesday, the day Francis arrives at WYD. Four young Poles
with autism and Asperger's syndrome will welcome the Pope thanks to it. But not only. Klaudia confesses: Francis, I want to tell you that I do not want to be changed. Piotr: My value lies in silence. Michal: I want to be listened to.
- I would like to tell the Pope that I dream that people will stop being disturbed by the glass sphere,
in which I live and function in society," says Agnes, one of the four. - I don't want to be changed and instructed, because the pathways and synaptic connections in my brain won't change. I want silence, focus and understanding. I want us to listen to the other person/autistic.
There are thousands of young people with autism in Poland - they live on the brink of exclusion. Autism is a holistic neurological disorder. People with autism do not speak or have trouble speaking, do not interact and interact, are frightened by loud noises, are unable to tolerate strong light. Many people do not understand these internal conditions, which they are unable to control. Their social problems start very early. At school. The first report in Poland, "Child with Autism - Access to Diagnosis, Therapy and Education in Poland," recently announced by JiM, does not leave a dry thread on the domestic support system for parents for children with autism. Family doctors are failing to recognize the signs of autism. Teachers call in schools because autistic children are, in their opinion, "naughty." There is a shortage of child psychiatrists - there are a mere 333 in Poland. School is the beginning of their exclusion. After that, it only gets worse.
Tomasz Michalowicz, president of the JiM Foundation, says the action is spontaneous. Young people,
with whom the JiM Foundation works, have repeatedly stressed how much they would like to meet the Pope and take part in World Youth Day.
- "I don't want to be changed" - this quote gets to me the most. Every person has the right to be himself, and no one should be changed by force. We fund our children with years of therapy, a harsh regime that we might not be able to bear ourselves. This must have its limits. We must not forget that autistic people also want to be simply happy," says Tomasz Michalowicz.
The number of children with autism spectrum disorders is growing dramatically in Poland - they are already diagnosed in 1 in 100 children. The number of children with autism in Poland is estimated at tens of thousands.
The mission of the JiM Foundation is to create a better world for children and young people with autism. Under its care are individuals from all over Poland. The Foundation runs the free JiM Clinic (diagnosis and therapy of autism for children), which has 1,000 children under its care, the Kindergarten and JiM Schools: primary, middle and preparatory school. It unites nearly 3,000 parents of children with autism into JiM Parents' Clubs, and organizes social campaigns to bring knowledge about autism.