Уюлія (Yulia) is ten years old, and is in the second youngest group of girls. [Side note: the girls are usually grouped by age/size/ability into different classrooms, but the 'malankas' are really the only group with a name.]

Yulia is difficult to describe, because it is so hard to get close to her. She is non-verbal, but does make a variety of noises. She is always by herself, and it seems as though she prefers her own company to anyone elses. Maybe this allows her some form of escape.

Every day, Yulia can be found sitting on a small chair in the corner of her classroom, alone. The other girls in her classroom give her space to do as she wishes, which is generally to sit in peace. I greet her and ask how she is doing (ie, 'Priveet, yak sprahvay?') and am patiently waiting to garner a response from her. She may be stubborn, but so am I! Most days she doesn't even glance in our general direction when we come through the door.

Yulia finds comfort by rocking herself, and this is a common practice for many of the girls - especially the girls who are unable to communicate well or do not really enjoy the company of others. I make her angry when I am near her for too long, and she especially hated my camera (I had a bunch of shots of her hand, swatting me away). Because Yulia distances herself from everyone, it is tough to coax her into participating in most of our activities. Maybe, just maybe, over time she'll warm up to us. I don't want to invade her space, but want to reach out to her in some small way.

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