To Be a Child Forever

Malene Sorensen is almost grown up, 19 years old, has moved away from home. Inside she remains a little girl.
If you know the fascination of what goes on inside the head of a little child that sits banging a spoon against a plastic bowl, you also know the fascination of how Malene sees the world. Her enthusiasm of small and big things make you wonder if she experiences the world as if new every moment. At the same time she knows it very well. She knows how to make the sign language signs for ice cream, candy and cakes and knows that with a little luck they will work. She knows that the colorful DVDs on the shelves next to her parents’ French window contain cartoons and other funny movies. She goes around looking through the windows of the institution Svanehuset for hours when she has been told that her parents will visit her that day. And she jumps up and down laughing when they finally arrive. She also knows that the dentist is dangerous, which makes it impossible to get her in the dentist’s chair if she hasn’t been given a sedative. If she needs to have cavities filled she is put under general anaesthesia.
Malene is mentally handicapped, she has epilepsy and she suffers from a mild degree of spastic paralysis. It is unclear why she is handicapped. Perhaps it is due to a birth injury or a chromosome disorder.
She grew up at home with her mother Jannie, her father Hans, her bigger brother Mogens and her bigger sister Maria. Now she lives in the institution Svanehuset in Copenhagen. She has her own room and a small, protected world that she knows well and feels at home in.

Malene sits in her parents’ car looking out into the world. She and her mother Jannie and big sister Maria are on their way home after visiting the Zoo. Malene lived at home until she was 16. Then she moved to the institution Svanehuset where she still lives. She often visits her parents and go with them on vacation or on trips, for example to the Zoo.
Malene is visiting her parents in their home on Christianshavn in Copenhagen, and her mother Jannie is keeping an eye on her. When Malene was smaller she tore everything down and put all kinds of things in her mouth, and it is still hard to keep her away from things that she isn’t allowed to get. Dangerous or valuable things are packed away or put in a place that she cannot reach. When she was in a relief institution when she was six her parents Hans and Jannie were sure that everything was okay and that they had the chance to relax and enjoy themselves. They had just put a lamb roast in the oven when they called from Gentofte County Hospital. Malene had drunk toilet cleanser she found in the bathroom of the relief institution. She was hospitalized for two days.
Malene is on a trip to the Deer Park with an intern from Svanehuset, the institution where she lives. Malene is very curious of the world, but she seems to feel best when someone holds her hand and there are not too many people around or too many impressions to handle.

Malene loves to joke around. She is crazy about slapstick and cartoons and sometimes sits watching them for a long time. At other times she has a hard time relaxing and keeping a focus on one thing.



Malene impatiently waits for her mother and father when she has been told that they will come to pick her up from the institution. She often looks out the window for them or passes the time on the protected rooftop terrace of the institution.
Malene has a very close connection with her mother Jannie. Until Malene was one and a half years old her mother was on leave from her job. Then she begun working, but on reduced hours so she had more time to take care of Malene.rnMalene can say mother both as a sound and in sign language. She also uses the word about something that is nice or good.
During the day Malene attends a school for young handicapped people. She has just been sent to the hallway to cool off after she has tried to hit one of the teachers. Malene has been prone to temper tantrums and acting out since she was a child. When she grew up three or four people had to hold her if she needed to have cavities filled. Now she is put under general anaesthesia because otherwise a simple visit to the dentist would result in a major use of force. Usually though, Malene is full of smiles.