LCYH identified autism as one of the causes to be supported and the first organisation we met was BULLE D’AIR.
Bulle d’Air is the first “leisure centre” in France specialized in mentally disabled children including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Bulle d’Air is unique in France in having special approval to cater to children of school age during school hours.
Created in Sept 2011 as a community-based association in Croissy-sur-Seine (78), it quickly gained recognition beyond the local community resulting in insufficient room to meet the fast increasing applications for attendance.
A generous donation of a new building was received in 2013 from the Fondation Bettencourt-Schueller. The new premises and logistical support from the CAF (Caisse des Allocations Familiales) des Yvelines enabled a major extension to welcome up to 100 children.
Priscilla Werba, founder of Bulle d’Air, explained her concept of working with children from a very early age, (unusual in France but with proven success in Anglo-Saxon countries) to ensure maximum impact on their development.
In parallel, regular information sessions are organized to help families cope with difficult situations at home. Priscilla also described to us the very limited research efforts and support from the French government for autistic children.
We were able to make a 3,000€ donation from the balance of our 2013-2014 charity account targeted for training in a special programme ESDM.
ESDM is the first comprehensive intervention designed for helping toddlers and pre-schoolers with autism that includes families and professionals working together for parent involvement and intensive intervention.
Launched in the early 80s in the US, ESDM was rated in 2012 by Time magazine as a top-10 medical break-through for promising results in children as young as 12 months, not only in improving autism symptoms, but actually altering brain development and social behavior.
Our donation has enabled Bulle d’Air to successfully lobby for a training session to be organised in the Paris region, at a substantially reduced cost than was previously available.
Our contribution has covered the cost for one therapist and we hope to be able to make further contributions to ensure that more Bulle d’Air members can benefit from this training. We are proud to support the autistic cause, and to play a part in promoting a method tried and tested in other countries in helping the rising number of children with autism and their families.