[en] Conference about volunteerism at the United Nations – oral statement by Eric LUCAS

On june 30th and july 1st 2015 was organized the annual conference ‘Volunteerism – Avenue for social transformation» at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Below is an oral statement made by Eric LUCAS, about autism and volunteering :

Backup link : in case the audio player above does not work on your system, right-click HERE and select «save target as» or «save link as» and then open the file.

This audio file includes also the answer made by Olga Zubkova, the head of Vector of Friendship (the NGO organizing the event), during which she invited Eric to participate to the International Forum «Volunteer in Russia» (which he did).

And here is the text :

Good afternoon, I hope that my testimony will be of some interest.

My name is Eric LUCAS, I am a high potential autistic, founder of Alliance Autiste, a self advocacy NGO in France, and representing Autistic Minority International, but what I say now is only my personal opinion.

It is very interesting to attend this conference and to see what volunteerism can do in the world.

Autistics are 1% of the world. Most of us are in special centers or hospitals, which is not decent and not a proper way for us to learn how to live with society.
I won’t give you a list of all the difficulties of autistics, which result mostly of the lack of knowledge and the fear.

A few autistic adults are doing a lot of efforts in order to organize and help ourselves, which is very difficult, because we have communication problems which make it very hard to cooperate, even between us (I did not even notice that Monique who runs also an autistics organization in England, and that I know,  is just behind me).

We are working for our cause from Monday to Sunday, from morning to evening, for most of us.

Some parents are trying to create their own schools or services.

We are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Despite all our efforts, it is difficult to progress without some support from the non autistic society, because we cannot do 100% of the efforts by ourselves.

We need some little reasonable accommodations, but we don’t know how to find it and to make the link between our world and all what I see here today.

In France, for instance, the government politely listens to us, but each time we ask for support, as a national organization, they don’t reply, or they reply that they don’t know what to propose.
They see us only as persons with disabilities who should be addressed by the health sector, they do not consider us as citizens, and it is because they exclude most autistics in special centers, that, indeed, autistics can never become real citizens, and that the mainstream society keeps being afraid by us, and full of misconceptions.

I’m sorry to say things looking like complaints, but we the high functioning autistics we know how to improve the life of autistics in the world, how to help them taking the path of their own special destiny, like any other human beings.

We have no problems working 10 to 14 hours per day, each day, but this is not enough without support.
I don’t know what to say or to ask or to suggest ; I guess that this is just a testimony about some difficulties, showing that the good will is not enough, and that some populations are forgotten.

We have a great potential.
But it is not enough.
Any contact or suggestion would be most welcome.
We would like also to provide our knowledges and experiences to Russia and their autistic population.
Sorry about this statement which is not pleasant and not fully in the topic, but I don’t know how to do better. We do what we can.

Regardless of autism, I think also that volunteerism can help a lot the young to feel part of society, to improve citizenship and to avoid some traps. In many rich countries, the youth is bored and loses itself in negative things. The governments barely understand. If things were better organized, with more good sense and involvement from the public services, everyone could have a better life, thanks to volunteerism. There are many ideas and things to do, but no one cares and no one listens.

Thank you very much.