Diana is a 24-year-old young woman diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder). The young woman studies at the School Center for Inclusive Education “Albastros” (massage specialization).
In the beginning of 2019, Diana enrolled in the LEAD project, following a working visit made by Olivia, our colleague from HAO Romania, at the school where she studies. On this occasion, Diana found out how our team can support her to have a fulfilling life.
Her mother accompanied Diana during the counselling sessions and the vocational profiling process, as she is her personal assistant. Olivia found out that her parents continually support the young woman, actively cultivating her passion for reading and encouraging her to put her thoughts on paper, because she has shown talent and creativity. They also take care to involve her in regular household activities.
Although Diana constantly needs her mother’s presence to complete her tasks, Olivia noticed that the young woman has a positive attitude and a great motivation to prove her usefulness in society, even by being involved in a volunteering activity, initially.
Our colleague intended to highlight Diana’s qualities. In this regard, Olivia initially discussed with the representatives of the County Library “Ioan N. Roman” in order to identify a volunteering opportunity for the young woman. Unfortunately, the Library management did not accept our colleague’s proposal, citing their lack of experience in collaborating with people with disabilities. Later, Olivia contacted the “Colorful Library” team, which agreed to work with the young woman, twice a week, for four hours, in a volunteering program.
Olivia discussed with Diana’s new colleagues about the specifics of the young woman’s condition, and about her passion for reading and writing. Additionally, she established with them the work schedule and the tasks that Diana will have to fulfil. They agreed that the young woman would sort the books into categories, will place them on the shelves and will keep the reading room clean.
Afterwards, Olivia explained to Diana what she had to do, and she assisted her in the activity. Our colleague monitored Diana’s work for several weeks, keeping in touch with the library staff and watching how Diana integrated into the team and how she performed her tasks.
Given the fact that the Library is located close to Diana’s house, at Olivia’s suggestion, the young woman’s mother encouraged her to go to work alone. Significantly this decision made Diana very happy and more confident in her own abilities.
Diana was constantly encouraged by her colleagues to write, weekly, a story about the world in which she sometimes lives, in order to cultivate her passions and talent. Subsequently, the book “Stories for young and old children” was published due to this great collaboration with the “Colorful Library”, and with the financial support of Diana’s parents. The young woman visited our colleagues at the Centre, giving them a copy of her first book.
We are very proud of Diana, and we hope that her story will motivate other young adults with disabilities to access the Services Centre for Supported Employment from Constanța. “Diana’s achievements bring me a great sense of professional fulfilment. It shows that our work is useful, and it changes lives, indeed”, said Olivia.
Up to the end of the LEAD project, 450 young adults with disabilities (180 from Romania, 150 from Lithuania and 120 from Portugal) will benefit from equal opportunities in social and professional integration. Supported Employment services will be provided by Health Action Overseas Romania, Valakupiai Rehabilitation Center and Consultis – Consultoria Empresarial, Unipessoal Lda for 165 young adults with disabilities (60 from Romania, 60 from Lithuania and 45 from Portugal).