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“Dear Grandma. I’m doing well, I work in a wool shop”

Andrey Kalinin and Vanya Kalinin are brothers with similar developmental disabilities, they have autism spectrum disorders. At the same time, many things are easier for Andrey, he is more active and sociable. It is due to the fact that Andrey started to participate in a social life much earlier. Why do we think so? Stay tuned.

Vanya is the eldest, he is 33, Andrey is 25. And yet, if you judge by the willingness to interact with the outside world and take the initiative in it, Andrey is much older psychologically. Vanya learns more slowly and does not look into the eyes at all. He has a manifested echolalia. This is how the condition when a person can’t help but repeat the phrases heard is called. For example, Vanya often quotes Russian TV series about policeofficers or “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Also he loves coloring books and he often sings songs from Soviet cartoons, especially from the “Town Musicians of Bremen”, but only at home. He doesn’t sing at all within the walls of the “Blagoye delo”.

In contrast Andrey is interested in everything: singing, dancing, and drawing. At home, he often sits at his desk: “He loves to write very much,” says Irina Valentinovna, the brothers’ mother. Although most of the texts exist only in Andrey’s own language, he also writes in Russian. For example, letters with the following text: “Dear Grandma. I’m Andrey. I’m doing well, I work in a wool workshop”

 “A lot of things are unclear, of course, but he still writes, we sent these letters, and grandma was very pleased,” adds Irina Valentinovna. The head of the wool and felt shop, where Vanya and Andrey work, adds that even during breaks, the younger brother types something in his phone.

 “They didn’t let him go to school or kindergarten”

Young men work in a shop where they make mittens, slippers, Christmas baubles, soft pictures and other items. One should be patient and know where to stop when working with such a delicate material as a wool. Andrey does a lot of things very well — he has mastered all the operations and he is paid as a master. Vanya is still in rehabilitation period and is just learning to finish what he started, but there is progress in his work.

“Little Andrey went to school earlier, while Vanya stayed at home for a long time. They didn’t let him go to school or kindergarten. Back than they did not take the “learning-disabled”, and we waited for a place in the kindergarten of a health resort type, and we went to study to such places where we were admitted. But of course, such classes were rare and it was not enough. So it turned out that we missed the most active moment of socialization for children.”

Irina Vladimirovna, Andrey and Vanya’s mother

When Vanya turned 23, he went to a theater studio to Vera Simakova. That studio had been subsequently tranformed into the “Blagoye delo”, where the young man worked as a ceramist first, and then moved to a wool and felt shop. At this time, Vanya gradually opened up to the world, began to answer questions, react to others.

Andrey joined our organization at an earlier age, right after school, at the age of 16. He was one of the youngest guys in the team and quickly adapted. Now Andrey feels comfortable among people, he himself shows a desire and interest in arts.

 Help and responsibility

 “The guys helped me before they started to attend the “Blagoye delo”, but now they help me much more. Especially after classes at the supported living project, where they were taught a lot. Now I ask them to help with cooking: peel the vegetables, cut the salad. They can walk to the bus stop themselves. There the bus takes them to work. It eases my life a lot,” says Vanya and Andrey’s mother.

 Young men have become not only more independent, but also responsible. Their help is needed when we work at the assignments in shops. If they are asked to do something, they never say “no”. Recently, at the “Blagoye delo” a theater studio has started working again, and the brothers attend it together. And if Andrey is used quite to attend almost all the art studis of the organization, this is a serious step for Vanya.

“It is important that they do not stay at home, but work and communicate with other people. When a child, even a grownup child, stays at home, it’s hard for both parents and children themselves. At the end it turns out that they don’t see anything but TV.”

Irina Vladimirovna, Andrey and Vanya’s mother

 The history of the brothers proofs the need for the existence of organizations who organize the life of people with disabilities. We work to help parents, to show that their children have been born for work, communication and creativity — for those the three pillars supporting anyones life. It doesn’t matter if he or she had been “diagnosed” or not.

Text by Ekaterina Yurkova

Translated by Tatiana Naumenkova