by Natalie Depyper, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia Oct. 2016 team
In Grand Rapids I get my client’s bin of materials & personal clipboard & grab an open table to sit & wait for him to arrive. I go over his goals for the day & make sure I have reinforcements available. Within a few minutes he arrives and runs towards me whilst tearing open his backpack to take out his lunch box. He forgets to hang up his coat so I prompt him to stop at the door and hang it up. He then quickly runs to grab his favorite toys & dumps them out all over the floor making noises & loud crashes with them all while going what seems to be a hundred miles an hour with no care in the world as to who is watching him or who is in his way. He sees food and goes for it while I block it until he mands “popcorn please.” We work at the table for a bit before he refuses or gets bored. He then has behaviors of hitting the table or throwing off the goal cards & asks for a break. He wants to play with Legos just a minute longer…
In Jakarta I watch Hi5’s clients arrive at the center. The therapists already have their materials ready set up on the floor as they wait for their kids. One arrives and runs straight into the center until he is stopped and prompted to take his shoes off because he forgets. He then quickly runs to grab his favorite toys & dumps them out all over the floor making noises & loud crashes with them all while going what seems to be going at a hundred miles an hour with no care in the world as to who is watching him or who is in his way. He runs around a bit more until he sees the food in the room that is being blocked from him until he mands “nasi goreng.” He and his therapist work on the floor for a bit before he gets fed up & and becomes bored. He has behaviors of throwing cards of the table, laughing & asking for a break. He too wants to play with Legos just one minute longer.
Autisma in Jakarta, Indonesia isn’t different than Autism in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Though 9,779 miles apart, the kids & therapists are the same. The kids have good days & bad days & so do the therapists. The therapists love their kids & pour out their lives doing so.
Sometimes the center has struggles. I think that I can speak for the ABA world & say that we all wish for more for our kids – more time, money & resources etc. In Michigan, those things may be easier but Indonesia has things that are far more valuable. The women of the Hi5 centre go above and beyond. They have weekly meetings for staff support and work twice as hard as I do because every learning material they have is only in English because the BACB refuses to make it in Bahasa. They make their own spreadsheets & documents & come up with their own parent training classes. They are only a group of 5 women and they do all the hard work themselves. They even go out into the village to ask people about autisma & offer them to come to their centre. This group of women saw a need and created a place for children with autisma to come & to learn. They believe more than most therapists I know & they are some of the best & most dedicated therapists I know. This is where your money & my time is going. They most definitely deserve it & are changing the future of children with autisma in Jakarta.