What was in there?
-Things such as: “Mrs Sebego is an isolated woman living alone with her son since 2004. She doesn’t have any friends and is obsessed with her diploma.” This report looked like it was scripted for a cheap reality-TV show. I started living on my own at 17 and worked several jobs so I could pay for my education. This woman’s goal was to depict me as someone with some mental issue, which could explain my son’s “autism”. Luckily, the judge in charge of the case refused to validate this report because there were too many inconsistencies between her report and my actual situation.
You’re giving a scary description of the social services…
-I want to make a clear distinction between the large majority of social aid workers whose purpose is to help families and the “others”… It would be unfair to put everyone in the same basket. There is no doubt that some children need protection from their parents and that most of social workers work toward that goal. But in any organization, there are always “bad apples”. However, to be fair, I also had some responsibility in this situation. When they offered to place my son in a place “similar to a kindergarten”, I signed without asking too many questions. In reality, it was a center only for handicapped and challenged kids. What saddens me the most is that the general interest of my son was never the priority. Unfortunately, some people are ready to sacrifice a kid’s future for a bonus. I didn’t fight against the system; I fought for my son. Today, he is back in the regular educational system, but I can’t help but thinking that four years of his life were stolen and I still feel guilty about it.
When your son went back to school, how did it go?
-Pretty good at the beginning until the school psychologist decided to improvise a meeting with all the other kids during recess. She told them that my son was “mentally retarded”. When my son came back from school that day, he asked me if it was true that he was a “retard”.
After all this, many other people might have chosen a job in which they wouldn’t have to interact so much with people, yet, you chose a career in communication. Why?
-Let’s not make generalizations here; the experience I had with these social workers doesn’t reflect our society. When I was 12, my dad worked for a lady I considered as my third grandma. She bought me a membership for a magazine that focused on communication. I remember the editorial being a cartoon summarizing the magazine life. In high school, one of my teachers asked the class to make a poster and I volunteered to do it. I remember how much I loved playing with different materials and deliver a message. By the way, the teacher never gave it back to me! (laughs)
How were your beginnings as a communication consultant?
-When I started, I doubted myself a lot. I thought I needed to have a “network” and so forth. For instance, I knew the professional network Aquinum for quite some time but I was afraid to get in touch with them. I realized that it was all in my head. Today, I’m part of it, and I’m glad because it is a very supportive environment.