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Rome Reports

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Mom of autistic child attracts pope's attention: Everyday is a surprise, you never know what will happen

The pope's weekly catechesis was marked by this intimate moment.

In just a few seconds, the life of this family was linked to the pontificate of Pope Francis. Lidia, the boy's mother, tells us that her son is called Wenzel and that he has autism. 

Wenzel's mother
“It was on the one side very exciting but on the other I felt... to see him escape it is like he goes and that is it. There is nothing you can do to stop him. He is a boy with non-verbal autism. So when I went to tell the pope that we are from Argentina and that he has non-verbal autism. As I was telling him I wanted to take him back to our seats the pope tells me not to...”

“Leave him, if he wants to play here, leave him.”

“He's Argentinian, undisciplined.”

Wenzel is six years old and the eldest of three siblings. (01,25 NC) The other two are Wilmer and Walkiria, the little girl who was sent by her mother to try to bring him back. However, without much success.

At first, the news of Wenzel's autism was difficult for the whole family to accept. 

Wenzel's mother
“It changes your life 100% because you don't have a normal life like everyone else. This is our life. Everyday is a surprise, we do not know what is going to happen. At first it was very difficult. It was very difficult for me to accept it. He seemed deaf, he didn't listen to us. He was never with me, he didn't want to come into my arms.”

“What has he brought to the family?”

“He is practically uniting us even more as a family... Patience, patience, patience and so much love.”

Wenzel's father
“He makes us rise as persons because, in this society of haste, we forget that life has another rhythm.”

Lidia and Ariel, like so many other families in this same situation, sought help and found it in this association called “Ants.” There they learned that every person with autism, in reality, has a gift that is yet to be discovered and developed.

President of the Ants Association
“Parents who have an autistic child must first learn to know them well. They need to understand the strengths of their child, who like all people have strengths which can help them.”

It is estimated that one in 160 children has autism. Those with autism have difficulty relating and identifying their emotions, but that doesn't mean they don't have them. 

Without a doubt, Wenzel's story with the pope at the Vatican will help raise awareness about how to help these people.