AGAPASM stimulates deafblind and people with multiple disabilities to overcome their limits

Here there's na article written by the website "Portoweb cidadão", which includes na interview with Alex Garcia:

"You who's reading this text can't imagine how your life would be if you couldn't see things. So, try to imagine if besides not being able to see well, you couldn't hear. How would your interaction with other people be? How would you socially include yourself?  What would be your job? The problems inherent in a situation like this are many but it's possible to reduce the difficulties as Alex Garcia, a deafblind Brazilian, shows us.

Overcoming many obstacles, Alex became a specialist in Special Education. In the following interview, you can see more about his work with AGAPASM (Gaúcha Association of the Parents and Friends of Deafblind and People with Multiple Disabilities) and you can understand how the will for winning can overcome any kind of limit.

PW (Portoweb):  How could you describe the reality lived by deafblind and people with multiple disabilities in Rio Grande do Sul?

Alex: It's something really complicated. There are many and different kinds of barriers, educational inclusion and social participations. These differences are since the natural difficulties caused by the conditions of people with multiple disabilities to the lack of concrete and intelligent Public Policies. In many situations, the negligences from the family and from some spheres of Public Power to people with multiple disabilities are close to total abandon, characterizing some cases of primitive development.

PW: Do you think there's a lot of prejudice?

Alex: yes, but I believe that prejudice is inherent to human being. What is stronger is the negation of our rights and some atitudes which bar the demand for these rights, preventing us of increasing with autonomy and freedom. The ones who can communicate their needs are the most easily included in the society. Generally speaking, the main demands of this public are related to education, to the access to information and communication, to their admission to the Labour market and finally to more qualified health services.

PW: What's AGAPASM proposal?

Alex: AGAPASM is worried about keeping improving the skills of those people who are included and about fighting for some space for the ones who are most damaged because of their disabilities or neglaction. AGAPASM is relatively new, it is only 2 years old. But it's already well-known in the Deafblind and Multiple Disabled Context in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Especifically, AGAPASM is destinated to seek, through its performances, a better quality of life to deafblind and people with multiple disabilities. Obviously, all and any kind of attempt to be well succeded is related to other people and movements. This way, AGAPASM interacts and supports educators, managers, families and similar organizations.

PW: How is the association work developed?

Alex: AGAPASM seeks to develop its goals through guidances. Our organization is wide-ranging in all the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The Service provided by AGAPASM is really specific and focused in two basic strends: the field of rights and duties, from the perspective of social inclusion, observing the legal rules sculpted in the Brazilian Constitution and the 45/91 United Nations resolution and the educational guidance work itself.

PW: What about the results?

Alex: I could do a pioneering work, designed with a view to improve these people's quality of life.I knew the tough reality which affects deafblind and people with multiple disabilities in our state. I work in many countries as a leader in the area of Deafblindness and I share experiences and values with other world leaders. This way, we have made the Deafblind and Multiple Disabled Context moves forward quickly. These advances reflected on the changing of those people's life quality. I think that we've become 'Fathers' of one of the most meaningful Public Policies to deafblind and people with multiple disabilites in the Brazilian history.

PW: Do you refer to the social inclusion practices?

Alex: We know that inclusion means the system adaptation to each person's Peculiarities. Therefore, theoratically, the more specific and problematical is the codition presented by a deafblind or person with multiple disabilities, the more friction it will cause to the modification of the operative system. Some intelectuals consider that interaction can only happen in the inner circle of the group and the school class. In many of my performances as an educator in this state and as the president of AGAPASM I'm faced with people with primitive characteristics of development, closed in their rooms, living a kind of life that even they don't know they belong to. So, with a lot of dedication, we could withdraw those people from cubicles where they live and at first we work with the family inclusion itself.

PW: What are the peculiarities of Special Education?

Alex: At first, we must divide deafblind in two groups: the prelinguistic ones and the poslinguistic ones. The prelinguistic deafblind people have as a peculiarity the need for integration with real world to make their learning more effective.  But the communication and interaction problems that those prelinguistic deafblind present (in many case, there are severe problems) at first don't allow those people to be considered out of their family context. In those cases, there's also the necessity of a private education assistance - one educator for each deafblind - or, depending on each person's characteristics an educator for each two or three deafblind people.  As educational and learning progress, it's possible to abandon little by little the assistance to the immediate necessities and it's possible to start the development of more abstract aptitudes, stimulating the thoguht to things which aren't easily shown to the senses.   On the other hand, to the poslinguistic deafblind, education happens entirely in na abstract sense and in the communicative power they have. In these cases an educational characteristic that I think extremely relevant is the adaptive-learning, in other words, it's making those people get na appropriate education so they can be able to face changings in their lives.

PW: How does inclusion happen in the Labour Market?

Alex: It happens when there is an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Also when the environment tries to notice more the skills than the disabilities. Generally those people who got education and have their families support have a great power of adaptation which is a key feature to work.

PW: What does AGAPASM do in this sense?

Alex: AGAPASM supports those people who are entering the labour market through guidance and consultancy to companies and employers about their adaptation and potentials.

PW: How can society know more about deafblindness and multiple disabilities and also about AGAPASM?

Alex: Everybody is invited to access our website: www.agapasm.com.br. On this website you can find very specific information about AGAPASM. "fale Conosco" (Talk to us) is open to receive comments, questions and enlightenments. So if you want to collaborate or interact with us, please send us your message. AGAPASM will be pleased to talk to you"

This article is published in Portuguese on the website "PORTOWEB CIDADÂO" Direct access through the website http://wwwl.prefpoa.com.br/pwcidadao/default.php?reg=9&p_secao=39