Eye contact with Adriana Godoy

“In the storm, I am a candle, the one that looks after for beautiful songs” – Rosa Passos and Sérgio Natureza


Optimism, family bonds, and music are the elements that keep Adriana strong. Our conversation was charged with emotion. She cried, turned serious, smiled. She even laughed heartily. Adriana is a woman of faith. For this reason, she believes that “a star is always bound to shine even when a tear may fall,” as goes her favorite song Estrela by Gilberto Gil.


Adriana offers various possibilities for interpretation, sometimes it’s classical music, many times it’s “Bossa Nova”, but it can rapidly transform itself into rock ‘n’ roll.


“I wanted to study biology, to specialize in it and understand how animals live in their communities. It fascinated me to consider how ants organize, communicate. I had a passion for this.”


But, it was quick to identify her artistic soul, carefree, lighthearted and easygoing. If I had to pick one style of music to describe Adriana, it would be pop.


“I was part of the group of popular students in my class, but part of the nerds group as well. I got along really well with my younger sister’s group of friends, but I also loved and was friends with my older sister’s group.”


She was born and raised in a large family with five siblings, where, from early on, she gained experience in community living.

  Eye contact with Adriana GodoySão Paulo - SP - Oct - 26 - 2016

“My family is made up of musicians. My father is

a musician and my mother a singer. I grew up studying in the living room with my siblings, with my father rehearsing with singers, like Cauby Peixoto in

a neighboring room. I took care of my brothers and sisters, organized the house chores. I was my father’s right-hand man.”


A professional singer, Adriana Godoy, began to shine at 19 years old when her father introduced her to the universe of music.



“I was unemployed so my father, to help me, hired me to sing in one of his shows. It was a surprise to my family who was in the audience. I sang the first time with him, cried from emotions after my performance, was very well received and so I saw that this was what I wanted for myself.”


Ever since then, she started to perform on life’s stages. She studied in the mornings and gave music lessons in the afternoons. She also worked as a music producer. It was during this time that she married Neimer, father of her two sons, Lucka (15) and Victor (13).

The couple together opened their own business, a café in the city of São Paulo.


“I had a very busy life, full of commitments. I sang a lot outside of São Paulo and sometimes traveled outside of the country with other groups at the invitation of the Brazilian Consulate to promote [Brazilian] national music.”


To maintain this rhythm, she was lucky to have the support of her mother and her father-in-law during Lucka’s and Victor’s first years. For health reasons, they very much needed the care of Adriana and Neimer during this time.


“My mother was not well. My father-in-law had diabetes. We brought them both to live with us. So, when we had Victor, we took care of him, of Lucka, of my mother, and of my father-in-law. But, they also helped us a lot with the children. It was a great time.”


And it was with this cadence that Adriana lived her life until she received the Autism diagnosis for Victor, nine years ago, when the boy was about three years old.


“The moment I learned, I said: ‘Stop everything! We need to give more attention to us four. We need to take care of our family, take care of Victor. Neimer and I made a pact. We had to find a way to understand Victor, but understand Lucka too.”


For her the word “insecurity” is what describes that moment, of the diagnosis. And “certaint” is the sentiment that permeates the moment that she inhabits today, nine years later.


Adriana never had difficulties in learning and singing new melodies. She came to reach stardom as a professional singer, with the possibility of an international career, but, in that moment, she chose to dedicate herself to Victor and her family.


 “My feeling was that the party had ended. I realized that I could not maintain the two things. When I discovered Victor’s autism, I had to let go of my career as a singer.”


Autism turned into a new song to be interpreted by Adriana. It was a new challenge, a new career to pursue. Adriana changed. She stopped singing professionally and sold her business in São Paulo.


“I am one Adriana before and one after Victor’s diagnosis. I am less bossy, less impulsive, more flexible, because with autism, you cannot act on impulse.”


She decided to change her approach to life. She changed houses, address; she left São Paulo and they set up in Sorocaba.


“I have a very unified family. I always took care of everyone, but I felt that I needed someone to take care of me a little bit and my small family. We needed to have an attentive eye on us four.”


She asked for and received the help of her aunt who invited the family to live with her in Sorocaba, in the old and comfortable house of her maternal grandparents.


“I did not have time for mourning.”


Sorocaba was the place where Adriana and Neimer had the tranquility to put their ideas in order. It was a moment of immersion in the topic of interest. The started studying about autism and learning how to treat Victor and help Lucka and understand what was going on.


“Victor did not connect with the environment. It was very difficult to get Victor’s eye contact. Because his brother did not play with or interact with him, Lucka thought the problem laid with him. And so we asked Lucka to have patience, patience, patience.”


With the lack of assertive guidance from health professionals of the time and the lack of information about autism in Portuguese, Adriana focused her search for information on American articles about autism treatment and conversations with other mothers.


“At that time [2007], nine years ago, there was almost no information about autism. There was no knowledge about treatment. There were no public policies. On the internet, you would find thirty articles in English about autism for each three or four in Portuguese.”


It was during this period that Adriana learned a lot about Applied Behavioral Analysis, ABA. She took many classes in ABA. She also found the social stories method, a way to help Victor with his daily activities. Social stories normally incorporate images and text to teach children with autism about basic daily routines, like washing hands, taking a bath, cleaning the room, and even more complex combined routines that cover an entire day’s activities.


“Victor already did not use diapers. When we moved to my aunt’s house in Sorocaba, all of a sudden, he began to evacuate on the floor. It was then that I remembered Temple Grandin’s videos, and I went back to studying the ‘social stories’ technique. I still did not have material in Portuguese, so Neimer and I created a story for him, an image of him defecating on the floor with a red X on top.”


Victor had the luck of having a fine artist as a father. Adriana recognizes this with much pride:


“Neimer always loved to draw. He is good at it, studied much about it but did not and does not make a living from it.”


Since the social stories available online were in English, Neimer had to use his talent to draw and illustrate special, personalized routines for Victor.


“I used the drawing for ‘Do not defecate on the floor.’ He would recognize the desire to go to the bathroom in this story and would call me, pulling me by the arm. It was two months before he stopped. He never again went to the bathroom on the floor. After that day, we understood that these drawings would be our best allies.”


It was in this way that Adriana found proof that this technique worked. She, instinctively, started turning into Victor’s therapist while Neimer became the official illustrator of dozens of social stories for Victor.


Adriana and her family decided it was time to return to São Paulo after one year and a half in Sorocaba. Despite always being attentive and worried twenty-four hours a day about Victor’s development, she felt much insecurity and always questioned whether she was doing the correct and best thing for her son.


“I needed someone to validate what I was doing.”


In São Paulo, Victor would attend school. He had a therapist. The couple found an adequate school for their autistic son, but it was not in the best structural state, and, suddenly, one year later, it closed. For eight months, they tried to find a new private school, but none would accept Victor.



“Until I found a [school] director that said this: ‘What do you mean he has been out of school for so long? Bring him tomorrow and whatever we have to do, we will do.’”


At this school, he got placed in the last year of the Elementary and graduated in the fifth year, in 2015. Victor was very well accepted by his classmates and, above all, their mothers.


“These mothers support me even today. They were sorry that Victor did not follow the class to another school, part of the class remains together, but we decided to go to public school.”


Adriana declares that they had many difficulties in the inclusive educational process but also many successes. She affirms that everything was worth it and she would do it all again.


“Victor was the third student with autism that this school ever had. When we left, there were about 20 students with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] enrolled, in a school of 200 students. The learning process was mutual.”


It was during this period, in trying to harmonize the sharps and flats of Victor’s autism, that Adriana had her crisis.


In truth, the mourning was delayed, but it arrived nonetheless. Instead of Victor, Adriana had to attend therapy.


“It was in this period that I had the emotional downfall. I would feel a strong pain in my stomach. I could not get up from the floor from so much pain. I would stay in the fetal position. In reality, it was an anguish.”


While this was happening, Victor had the opportunity to participate in a workshop, promoted by the NGO Autismo & Realidade – -, where Victor was evaluated by autism specialist from the United States.


“I was very nervous, for I thought they were going to say that I was doing everything wrong. It was the complete opposite. They were impressed with our illustrations and our ability in treating Victor.”


From that moment, a new Adriana emerged. She began to prepare a new party, for it was these professionals that gave her the certainty that the path she had instinctively chosen for her son had been utterly correct and could serve not only Victor but also many other families with autistic children.


 “It was a milestone this workshop in my and Victor’s lives. The doctor gave me confidence when he said that I was the captain of my team, that I would decide where my boat would navigate. And the speech therapist, Dr. Erin Lozott, told me that everything was right. She was impressed with the drawings and joked saying that she was going to invite me to give a lecture in her place about the topic. I broke down in tears from emotion.”


It was there, in that magic moment, that Adriana had planted in her heart the seed of a future project, Projeto Integrar, an NGO that became her new melody of life and marked her return to stardom.


Sometime later, Victor would attend reinforcement therapies at Projeto Amplitude -


Adriana came to distribute Victor’s illustrated routines to the mothers of autistic children she became familiar with.


 Eye contact with Adriana GodoySão Paulo - SP - Oct - 26 - 2016“I would see the difficulty of the families in producing the material that we would make all the time for Victor. So, one day, I decided to print the illustration for ‘Good Bath,’ and I took it to the mothers. Two weeks later, one of the moms came to thank me, with tears in her eyes, really emotional, because Victor’s ‘Good Bath’ illustration was effective for her 7-year-old daughter, who for the first time took a bath by herself.”


This was the starting point for Adriana and Neimer to create a blog and website to start Projeto Integrar.


“I left that day very happy but very intrigued. I thought, ‘Wow, this is serious. How many families could maybe benefit from this?’”


And that is what they did and what they do even today. Victor’s parents used the internet as a platform to make available for free their illustrations for social stories. The website of Projeto Integrar has been online since November of 2013, offering valuable tools with the objective of providing Brazilians affected by autism with autonomy and knowledge.


After the launch of the project, in one week, they received more than eight thousand hits.


“We have an average of four hundred page views daily, but when we make a new post [They are biweekly – every two weeks.], it increases to about 1,500 views [daily] for 5 to 6 days.”


The majority of the social stories in the website archive are the one the couple made for Victor. Again, any family can download these, for they are totally free.


“We only charge when a personalized social routine is ordered. Then there is a cost, but whoever makes an order becomes a partner of the project because he or she finances an illustration that others may then download for free.”


Adriana and Neimer’s project values accessibility. It is a completely virtual project, but the success is real.


In 2015, they won a prize from the São Paulo City Hall program called VAITEC, which incentivizes technological initiatives with social impact. The funds that accompanied the prize will make possible a new website for Projeto Integrar where families and other interested parties may access courses on the social stories method.


“We are going to start a new phase of the project.

We will offer a remote-access course with an accessible price and plain language so that people can learn to make their own illustrations. The focus is reaching families, therapists, and teachers.”


Adriana has a mantra that is a phrase from Dr. Erin Lozzott, “Support generates ability.” And with Projeto Integrar, Adriana maintains this focus and has the privilege of realizing her dream of supporting more than 200 thousand families in all of Brazil.


“I always dreamed of being able to help other people. I want to reproduce this project in all countries.”


After all, Adriana was always fated for stardom.


Today, Adriana can be compared to a sun, shining not just as a professional singer but as a conductor for a community of Brazilian families affected by autism.


Adriana and Neimer, in a very generous way, create a gravitational pull that brings in the most diverse and colorful stars, families of autistic children, into their galaxy.


Do not hesitate to visit, share, and disseminate Projeto Integrar’s website,


In January 2017, the new site will be launched with sign-up for the remote course “How to Create Illustrated Routines for People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”


Adriana’s closing message: “Maintaining unity [in the marriage] is the biggest challenge. Often we become ill from the diagnosis and it takes a while to notice that we are sick. In contrast to our children, we can cure this. Do not lose yourself seeking a cure. Autism is a way to relate to the world and everything, in its time, will be better understood. Do not buy into rumors or fads, engage yourself, maintain your personal life as a couple, date...”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   For those interested in learning a little about Adriana Godoy’s career:

• She recorded her first CD when she was pregnant with Victor – 2002/2003.

• Despite the obstacles, she recorded her second CD in March 2010.

• Her third CD “O que a Gente Ouvia Lá em Casa” was released in 2014, with the group 3GTrio, consisting of herself and two cousins. Frederico Godoy plays the piano and Tico de Godoy plays the saxophone.

• In 2017, Adriana plans to release her fourth CD, named “Ágape”.



The End.


Life Stories






Some of the social histories you will see in the Integrar Project Website.