The look I will never forget, the look that I still think about in my dreams, the child that was alone. She had no name to most, abandoned due to her individual needs. Cleopatra had the best caregiver at the children's hospital by day, but by night she lied there alone with no one to hold her, love her, fight for her health needs. I was a Global Volunteer, a magnificent group, and amazing volunteers. The couple who run the program care deeply for the children at the orphanage and fought hard for volunteers to come. Volunteers come a few times a year to hold and care for special needs orphans. After volunteering a few years and seeing Cleo when I would arrive, I would leave with a broken heart. I received word a few days after coming home that Cleo had passed away. I inquired this past year about where Cleo was laid to rest, and it seems she was buried in her home village. Peace has come to beautiful Cleopatra.
I often wonder why the orphans sitting in there big metal cribs don't speak, make many noises and rock back and forth. In reading the article by Charles Nelson, Research director, Boston Children’s Hospital he writes :
Psychosocial deprivation is essentially a lack of caregiver stimulation and investment. It is particularly common among children reared in institutions. Researchers, myself included, have been studying the effects of psychosocial deprivation in Romanian children who were institutionalized as infants. These orphans lived in large white rooms crowded with cribs. They were fed and changed but otherwise ignored.
Infants who lack external stimulation often resort to self-stimulation. A common form of self-stimulation is repetitive behavior, such as hand flapping or rocking. We found that more than 60 percent of children in our study show these behaviors, even though most fall short of an autism diagnosis.
Curious consequence: Roughly 1 in 10 children raised in Romanian orphanages has autism features.