Virgílio Pedro Rigonatti *


(Unpublished chapter of the book to be launched by the author, which describes particular aspects of people with disabilities through personal and family reports. We were privileged to participate, with a testimony about our daily life of 21 years living with autism. Our gratitude to Virgílio who authorized us to publish this chapter before the release. He wrote in a very sensitive way about Pedro).


Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ASD, is a brain deficiency whose origin is not fully known, nor is it fully understood and classified.


The brain is part of the Central Nervous System. It is the most complex structure of the body and the most difficult to be studied. The other parts - limbs, muscles, veins, nerves ... - and organs of the body - heart, lung, stomach, intestine ... - are subject to direct observation, being possible to open the living body, visualize and understand its works . With the brain, due to its sophistication - tangle of nerves, neurons, liquids ... - and intricate, complex and delicate structure, visual observation of its functioning is not possible and extremely difficult and risky a direct intervention.


Strongly protected by a bone structure - the skull - by the meninges and the cerebrospinal fluid, which minimize the trauma caused by mechanical shocks, the brain is composed of the brain, cerebellum and brain stem. The last two are linked to the area of ​​coordination of movements and body posture, controlling visual and auditory reflexes, breathing, heartbeat and vasoconstriction, in addition to muscle tone. The brain, on the other hand, is a complex system that determines the essence of the personality of every animal endowed with intelligence, especially in humans who have reached a very high degree of development.


The brain has two hemispheres made up of four lobes - frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital - arranged in pairs, one in each half. The outermost region, the cerebral cortex, houses the neurons and the innermost region houses the dendrites and axons that are extensions of the neurons in charge of receiving the electrical impulses coming from all parts of the organism, forward to the interior of the cell, where they are processed and interpreted the information, and to send the answers and determinations elaborated by the neural set. Among neurons, neurotransmitters act, synapses, which transmit electrical impulses between one neuron and another, or from it to a muscle or glandular cell. The lobes of the two hemispheres of the brain control all bodily activities, with those in the left area controlling the right side of the body and vice versa. Each wolf has its own specific functions.


All body movement and brain activity are only possible thanks to the electrical impulses that travel, round and round, the nervous systems as messengers of information and stimulator of the organism's actions.


The mind is an abstraction that describes the higher functions of the human brain, related to cognition and behavior, which provide the manifestation of human nature, defining the individual's personality, making him conscious and unique.


Like a physical deficiency, an organism may have a deficiency in the composition of the brain, which may be congenital or acquired. This can be the result of an accident, illness or bleeding.


Pedro Rosengarten Baptista, 21 years old, autistic, in the City Council, São Paulo.Guto Maia, an experienced father for having accompanied the birth and development of three children, was surprised by the behavior of his fourth child since the birth. He noticed the physical weakness, noticing the insufficiency of muscle tone presented by the child, whom he and his wife, Rossana, named Pedro. Guto, in addition to being hardened by life, being in his fifth marriage, having accompanied the development of the first three shoots, taken with different wives, was a teacher, researcher and curious in all aspects of life. He worried about his son's condition, although the pediatrician comforted him and predicted improvements over the days. But that was not what really happened.


Very observant, Guto noticed that Pedrinho did not look at his mother when he was breastfed, the usual behavior of every baby, as he remembered the other three children, remembering that they, too, smiled when they noticed the mother's gaze. Pedro did not look, smile or suck. I didn't have enough strength to suck. He showed signs of apathy, but he did not cry, which made his parents very strange, because if something bothered him, he should cry. He did not answer calls from his parents, appearing deaf.


Reaching the age of crawling, Pedro was unable to perform the movement, only crawling on the floor. With more than a year to live, he couldn't speak.

Without knowing and without considering the reasons for his son's condition, Guto changed from one pediatrician to another, always hearing that it was necessary to allow time for the child to develop, each one has his own way and Pedro's way was like that. They recommended patience and faith, in time he would grow stronger and lead a normal life.

Impatient and suspicious that something was wrong with his son, Guto talked to the most diverse people, trying to discover similarities in the experiences of others that would warm him up, give him hope, or at least clarify the situation with the discovery of what affected him. Pedrinho. He was sure that something abnormal was happening to his son and despaired at the ignorance of the various doctors he consulted. Guto and his wife were lost, out of their minds, not knowing exactly what to do. If Pedro had any problems - Guto and his wife believed they did - they would diagnose him so that, at least, he could follow a certain and safe way to treat him. The worst pain is not knowing what to do to help the child. If he knew, however distressing it might be, he would put all his energy into giving the boy better living conditions. Ignorance increased the couple's suffering, increased agony, tormented the daily life, raised the level of despair.

At the threshold of the 21st century, when Pedro was a baby, little was known about autism in Brazil. Its manifestation was unknown by the vast majority of pediatricians, even because it could be confused, as was the case with him, with muscle problems or delayed neurological development, as it happened with countless children.

Only when Pedro turned twelve did a doctor at Hospital das Clínicas diagnose his disability: autism. According to the neurologist, he had Asperger's Syndrome, a milder degree of disability, less aggressive and which even had, according to the doctor, an advantage over other degrees of autism, as many geniuses of humanity also had the same clinical picture .

Guto was uncomfortable with the observation that there was an advantage over other levels of disability. Studious and humanistic, he did not see the situation from the angle of more or less beneficial or advantageous. Over time, living with families of autistic people, I noticed that some looked, yes, for this aspect, even though some boasted precisely for having a greater suffering ordeal for having a child with stronger autism.

By this time of Pedro's diagnosis, studies on autism developed very quickly, with the progress of medicine focused on the study of the brain, the most difficult area to be observed and understood.

Recently, an understanding of the degrees of functionality of TEA, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, has been reached.

In low functionality, the child has little interaction, with severe mental delays and repetition of movements. In these cases, the individual will demand more intense treatments throughout his life.

In average functionality, it also presents repetitive movements and communication difficulties, although at a lower level than in low functionality.

In high functionality, symptoms and behaviors are milder, managing to study, work and even start a family.

In the Savant classification, it presents a specific talent pool, with a high degree of memory, although presenting psychological deficits.

In Asperge's Syndrome, cognitive and language aspects do not present significant delays, with privileged memory and better functional adaptation. The causes of the problems are not yet fully known, and may be due to genetic predisposition, environmental factors or infections during pregnancy. Today, it is understood that for prevention it is important to avoid contagions, during pregnancy, with environments with a high degree of pollution; not exposing yourself to toxic products, cigarettes; do not drink alcohol; the mother gets vaccinated against rubella. Today, the symptoms and signs of autism are better understood to diagnose the deficiency: apathy; uninterrupted crying; lack of eye contact with the mother, especially when breastfeeding; apparent deafness; restlessness; little desire to speak; constant repetition of words you hear; pendular and repetitive movements of the trunk, head and hands; anxiety; aggressiveness; refusal to taste food; difficulty accepting new toys; resistance to changing routines; delay in physical development, with weak muscle tone; isolate yourself in your own world.

Today it is possible to identify symptoms between 1.5 to 3 years of life, with the help of medical diagnosis through observation, without requiring laboratory or imaging tests.
Autism has no cure. The treatments aim to alleviate the resulting problems and are multidisciplinary: doctors, speech therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and pedagogues are called upon to give a better quality of life to autistic people. The sooner they are diagnosed, the greater the chances of improvement.

Guto Maia, in order to understand what happened to his son and help him face life, became a scholar on the topic, including promoting the formation of a group of parents of autistic children in order to help each other to improve quality of life and increase the degree of happiness of children diagnosed as autistic. For Guto, it is essential that the family and the people around him are aware of the importance of protection and of showing love and appreciation for the autistic child. It is gratifying for any individual to know that he is loved and esteemed by his parents, siblings, grandparents, in short, by the whole family and friends. For a person with any type of disability, demonstrations become much more important because of their fragility compared to the people around them. A child has the ability to perceive the behavior and understand the reactions of the people with whom he lives. A child with a disability feels and notices that he is different and has limitations that prevent him from acting like the people he serves as a reference, even if he does not understand why. This causes irritation, annoyance and low esteem for not being able to do the same and not meeting the parents' expectations. These reactions are common, too, in children apparently without disabilities, but who have their maturation time delayed in comparison with others, failing to accomplish what their parents propose. In these moments, even more, it is important to show love and understanding, stimulating without anxious demands, understanding that each one has its degree of difficulties that must be overcome with perseverance, however without stress and without derogatory or discouraging charges. This level of understanding must be much higher when the child has some type of disability, because he realizes that he has something different, which should cause fear, anguish, pain, irritation. Knowing yourself loved, relieves bad feelings and encourages you to strive to improve.

From the observations, own experience, studies and discussions in the group of parents of autistic children, Guto is sure that it is a distressing situation for parents to find that their child has some kind of limitation. But, he preaches, it is necessary to have the understanding that there are things in life that we can and must change, however others cannot be modified and disability is one of them. Once irreversibility is verified, the best medicine for parents is acceptance. Having no other alternative, conforming to reality quietens the spirit by allowing parents to focus attention on what they can do to improve their child's living conditions and happiness. Once the feelings are calmed, the parents are more likely to transmit security and serenity to him. The child perceives the parents' feelings of annoyance, anguish, unhappiness and annoyance, which makes them feel guilty, because they understand that it is because of them that the parents are unhappy and this makes them feel worse. With acceptance, says Maia, parents can transmit love, tranquility and happiness, improving their child's self-esteem, enabling progress and well-being by perceiving being loved.

A second point that parents should keep in mind, says Guto, is to ask for help. The tendency of family and friends is to move away from socializing. Having the humility to ask for help and collaboration, it facilitates people's acceptance and collaboration. We need to seek external help as well. Whoever professes any religion, seek the comfort of their community. Search and discover groups of parents and friends of people with the same types of disabilities where you can share common experiences, learn about acquired knowledge, participate in collective actions in search of better conditions within society.

Third point: willingly accept help. Guto Maia states that it is difficult, in general, for people to seek help and, mainly, to accept this protection. Several reasons lead to this, one of them is pride. Becoming aware that we all have our weaknesses, especially when facing a difficult situation, such as having a child with a disability, is an extremely important step to alleviate anguish, face life and allow a better condition of existence for the main protagonist: the child .

In conversations and discussions in the group of autistic parents, Guto Maia always remembers that a fourth point to be observed is gratitude for the help received, which encourages actions between people and creates an environment of collaboration and sharing of life.

About the author

Virgilio Pedro Rigonatti is a São Paulo writer, born in 1948.

* Virgilio Pedro Rigonatti

Virgilio Pedro Rigonatti é escritor paulistano, nascido em 1948.Virgilio Pedro Rigonatti é escritor paulistano, nascido em 1948.

* Virgilio Pedro Rigonatti

São Paulo writer, born in 1948.

He had his first book, "Maria Clara - A Filha do Coronel", released in 2016, by the publishing house Gente. Following, in 2017, he published "Cravo Vermelho", and "Maria Clara - Conquest of a Place in the Sun", 2018, both by his own publisher, Leeprazer.

In 2019, he launched the book "Eletron, from the Big Bang to the World 4.0", and prepares the launch of a book on physical and intellectual disabilities, whose chapter on Autism was kindly made available by the author.

His sixth book, a novel about love in old age, is entitled "In Autumn Flowers Are Also Born".