Mercedes is a girl with 18 years of age, beautiful, affectionate, respectful, educated, feminine, responsible, with a lot of genius and with intellectual disability, something that has not taken away her will to live, but that has made her live in situations of bullying and discrimination.
But Mercedes is not alone. Next to her is Azucena, a mother who fights every day so that the Right of children with intellectual disabilities to be happy and to live in society. "In most cases, the disability is not visually appreciated, so it is not identifiable, and people end up taking advantage of them and their vulnerability, and behave towards them as if they were idiots."
When Azucena talks about her daughter Mercedes, her smile overflows from her face. "She was a beautiful girl, very calm and with a lot of pachorrota", as her father and I said. His childhood passed like that of any other child his age: parks, birthdays, pediatric check-ups, nurseries ...
And it was here, at the time that the school stage began that Azucena began to get sad: "In the schools, my vision of her was that she was always alone, but she was happy, she didn't need anyone, maybe it was that she didn't understand neither did the others understand her. "
When the little girl reached the third grade of preschool, the alarms went off. "All the children in her class knew how to read except for her and she was not able to distinguish colors and / or geometric shapes". At school, instead of helping, they looked the other way and, as Mercedes explains, "they invited us to leave because they didn't give the profile."
But there was this mother, the courage to fight so that her daughter had the best education and a life full of happiness. "We moved by information that other parents gave us and some situation that had passed similar school delay in learning, but without knowing what was really happening to our daughter."
Finally they did a psychological study and from there they were told that she had a intellectual disability, but that was little appreciable, conclusion was closer to TDH. "As parents we stayed with that classification, since little else they told us about what it really had or they did not explain it to us well."
The years passed and Mercedes went through two more ordinary schools. The difference with the rest of his classmates was barely noticeable at first, but after passing the courses, the distance between his peers was more appreciable and more sinister.
And, at this moment, a guardian angel appeared in the life of this family: Evangelina Álvarez, Mercedes' private teacher, the one who opened the way to the reality of their disability. "It was hard -says Azucena tearfully- Thankfully we had the support of Adisli (Association for the Attention of People with Slight Intellectual Disabilities and Borderline Intelligence)! Thanks to them we realized that we were not alone, that there were more people just like us, who weren't weirdos and we had our niche in society. "
For Azucena and her husband, their life changed when their daughter was born and again took an important turn when they were diagnosed (Mercedes had turned 15) and, although heartbreaking, it was also a relief because in the end they knew what was wrong to your daughter. Explaining it to him was another situation to face and, in this case, it was the father's turn, who in a simple, affectionate and tender way said to him: "Honey, you have difficulties doing some things, but you are not stupid as some people call you, you just have a hard time doing them and that's why you have to put more interest ".
At that moment, Mercedes remembers excitedly, "her expression was one of relief, I think she finally felt understood". And her brother, three years younger than her, could only answer categorically: "My sister is not stupid, she needs more help than the others, but she is fine."
Immediately, Azucena began looking for a special education school suited to Mercedes' characteristics. And it is not an easy task because there are many fewer places in this currently reviled educational modality and, in general, they are not usually close to home. To get an idea, for all of Madrid there are only 46 schools of Special education and not all schools are adapted to the different types of disabilities that we can find. Finally, Mercedes found her place at the Fundación A la Par school (CEE A la Par-Niño Jesús del Remedio, in Madrid) and the life of this young woman and her family has changed. "It has been the best we have been able to do for her. She is there with her peers, she feels happy, she has a lot of friends, she has a great relationship ... She has made a change that has surprised us and, above all, her Mercedes can do everything it sets out to do, it only lacked the means and we have achieved it, although we still have a lot to do. "
Azucena does not want to end this story without sending a message to society: "In life, all I ask of you is that we have to leave behind the stereotypes in order to come up with solutions to the needs of each child. We have to help them promote what they they really are good at it, because they are worth a lot and, above all, have more knowledge of disabilities. " In the A la Par Foundation they can not only study, but they have adapted to the needs raised by people with intellectual disabilities and their families and currently have an Employment Office, occupational centers or training houses as a previous step to the autonomous life because having an intellectual disability is not an obstacle to leading a full, dignified and independent life.
And she gives the parents who are going through what she has lived one piece of advice: never throw in the towel and look for the tools to empower their children. "Many times, out of fear, we protect them too much and that only makes them feel more insecure. We are going to help them by giving them controlled wings, because they have to fly like we did at the time."
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