Anne Lelabousse, a devoted 50-year-old mother, leads a busy life. She juggles two worlds – the enchanted world of Disney, where she dances as a Disney character two days a week, and the fulfilling world of nursing several evenings a week. She organizes her schedule so she can take care of her children, Thomas, 24, and Emma, 13, who are both disabled. Unfortunately, in France where children have little or no protection, their disabilities are often the target of ridicule. Anne emotionally recounts the ups and downs of this difficult journey.
Her son Thomas, who is very lively, has a rare genetic disease, trisomy 17, a chromosomal abnormality that has manifested itself in the form of autism. Thomas has experienced some difficult times, including the abuse he suffered by the nursing staff during his time at a Medical educational institute. When he was 12 years old, a group of children in the playground threw stones at him, making fun of him because he was small. The invisible scars of this upsetting time remain, but his kindness remains unshaken. Alongside him, his sister Emma, a 13-year-old artist with another form of autism, brings creative talent to the family’s world. She draws with astonishing precision and she has a great passion for musical comedy and film. She has also participated in several castings.
But even though she has shown artistic brilliance, the dark clouds of bullying darken Emma’s sky. She is regularly taunted by her classmates and even her teachers. Complexed by the fact that she has been placed in a ULIS (inclusive education for disabled children) she tries to do everything possible to hide the situation from those around her. One of her teachers is not pleased with her behavior, so she puts the teenager in humiliating situations that make her feel uncomfortable, making her look weak compared to the other students. Faced with difficulties that challenge her natural innocence, Emma has become increasingly withdrawn and less trusting of people.
Anne has carried these burdens with sadness, resilience and determination. She spoke out about the cruel bullying her children endured, started a petition for Thomas, and courageously talked to Emma’s principal on many occasions to take steps to protect her daughter from these mean-spirited acts.
At school, for example, Emma’s noise-cancelling headphones, which calmed her inner world, were mocked when a former teacher at Emma’s school put them on his head and took a photo of himself, which he sent to all of his colleagues. This cruel act was hurtful to Emma. However, despite all of Anne’s complaints, the schools ignored her, and the bullying teachers and students, as if they had some kind of immunity, continue to carry on with this bad behavior. Anne is deeply dismayed.
“I have the impression that the parents of children who bully do not want to admit they are bullies. There are so many injustices. For instance, some student made fun of my eldest son Nicolas, calling him “sheep” for a whole year, to such an extent that he asked to have his hair cut. One day, he responded by insulting one of his bullies and was punished, while his bullies were never punished. Or, the other day, some girls told my daughter Emma that her hair wasn’t styled, even though she’d spent an hour on it. People are not empathetic. It’s up to them to educate their children so that they don’t behave like bullies. If we could all help each other, it would be so much easier! “
Despite these setbacks, Thomas and Emma still illuminate Anne’s daily life with their unique light. Thomas, mischievous and funny, always finds a way to joke around, while Emma, spontaneous and natural, charms the casting directors. This year, she spent 10 days on the set of the 7th season of the SAM series, and was an extra in the film Jeanne du Barry, starring Maïwenn and Johnny Depp. In any case, Anne has not said her last word, and will continue to speak out against schools that do not take the necessary measures to protect students from bullying.