Pascale Chapuis, VA volunteer: "I feel useful"

At Orange, Pascale Chapuis schedules technician visits across the network. She has been a volunteer for Volontaires pour les personnes avec autisme (VA), an autism support charity, since 2012.

How did you become a volunteer for VA?
I was interested in autism. I didn’t know much about it, but I was interested in its complexity. I contacted Volontaires pour les personnes avec autisme (VA) through Isabelle Matras (VA regional representative). Initially I just wanted information. But then everything happened very quickly, Isabelle had a family waiting and everything was sorted out quickly. That was a good thing because otherwise I would have been scared to take the plunge.

What does the volunteering involve?
I look after a child every other Thursday. He’s a little boy who was 3 years old when I started and now he’s 6. He has autism and he also suffers from a rare medical condition. His autism is very severe, he has attacks which mean he has to be supported. Initially I spent time looking after him, but my role is also to help his mother, especially with day-to-day activities. For example, activities like getting him bathed and dressed which require two people. I still haven’t had the chance to do many activities with him. Thankfully he is making progress but it is slow and complicated. Autism teaches you patience.

pascale chapuis volontaire pour les personnes avec autisme volunteering week

What are the benefits of being a volunteer?
I feel useful, I enjoy going there because I can tell that the boy’s mother is happy. I have a good relationship with the family and they are very involved. I’ve gotten very attached to the boy and his family. I don’t know if what I am doing really helps him, so that’s why VA and the regional team’s support is important, as they can answer my questions. Sophie Kiszko is the charity’s psychologist and she supports me if I need help with the family.

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