Specialized in dentistry, Lena Lobakk is working for years in a clinic. The birth of Daniel, who has autism, has completely changed the life of her family.  Today, Lena is one of the PRIME voluntaries (Partnerships in International Medical Education), but also a courageous mother who wants to share her experience with other parents.

– Lena, tell us about your work in Moldova.

– Moldova is dear to me for several years. First I came here six years ago and quickly realized that the situation of the disabled children must be changed. It is generally known that such a disorder as autism is not curable, but it can be controlled. I organize workshops in Eastern Europe, including Moldova and show on our own example that autistic children are not worse or better than the others. They are simply different and need a special treatment.

– How can parents identify autism in children?

– Autism is a series of fundamental behavioral disorders. These disorders are felt at a young age, so there is only one rule – the disease identified the earlier, the better. Symptoms include behavioral problems, difficulty in speaking with other people, abnormal facial expressions and body language. Lack of communication with parents, especially with mother is the main factor that cannot be missed. In any case, early intervention (8 years) is absolutely necessary to keep the disease under control.

– What does PRIME mean and what is its’ main activity?

– PRIME is an abbreviation of Partnerships in International Medical Education. This organization is a network of specialists focused on medical training in different parts of the world. Our goal is to create an international network of doctors in many areas. This time four PRIME specialists came to Moldova in order to speak about cerebral palsy, autism, physical therapy and sign language techniques.

– Who was the target group for these seminars?

– The workshops were organised for the medical staff. Three days were devoted to discussions regarding methods of working with children with disabilities (cerebral palsy). The second seminar was an introduction into the Bliss system for all those who work with disabled children and try to build harmonious communication even without words.

– With what local organizations do you cooperate?

– We closely cooperate with Voinicel Center (http://voinicel.md), which was created for children with disabilities. Annually, approximately 1,500 consultations are offered by Voinicel. The role of this centre for the entire country is invaluable, therefore I would be happy if it would get more support from the state. Here in Moldova we are also supported by ORA International Moldova, which provides us a free stay in the centre of the capital.

– How would you describe the situation of disabled children in Norway and Moldova?

– It is not easy to compare the situation in these two countries. Obviously the quality of life is the main factor which makes the difference. 50 years ago Norway was not much more developed than Moldova, but not everything depends on the economy of the country. First of all count humaneness and understanding of these children. Then, the concept of the family must be restored. Every time I come in Moldova, I visit families with disabled children. What I have noticed is that the complete families are rarely to be met. Mothers often remain alone and helpless, but they still try to raise children with special needs. I pity them and always try to persuade them that there are other families. Together, it is easier to go through life’s challenges.

– What advice would you give parents who have children with disabilities?

– Less pills, more attention! Pills can solve problems for a short time,but a frank and genuine care can do much more. Disabled children cannot be completely treated, but they can be fully integrated into the family. Only when this step is done, the integration of these children into society will be successful.

Thank you for the interview!

by Mila Corlateanu

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