From Russia with love

Close encounters with a marine kind offer children a better life

Xiao Yu is already quite the traveler, having been to Russia a couple of times, remarkable given that she is just 4 years old. However, Yu is no normal tourist, her visits to the Black Sea coastal resort of Sochi being about much more than rest and recreation.

Those visits are seen as vital to how her next few years unfold, for Yu is autistic, and in Sochi she has had encounters with a very special kind of specialist that is hoped will help her eventually lead something that more closely resembles a normal life.

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That specialist – more exactly two of them – is a dolphin, contact with which is said to be beneficial to children like Yu.

Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. In some severe cases autistic children may have trouble learning to speak or make eye contact. However, many children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders are able to live normal lives with the help of therapy.

Dealing with autistic children is of course challenging for anyone unfamiliar with the condition, not the least parents who in most cases only over many months or even several years become aware that something is not quite right with their child.

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