[ By R. Alexandra ]
Parents don’t get a manual that comes with their kids but have the responsibility of raising their tiny little humans into well rounded, happy wholesome adults. This alone is daunting without the rest of the world breathing down their necks and judging them at every corner.
I sat down with a few parents to gain some insight as to how raising a child with neurodiversity has changed their lives? And this is what they had to say.
Alice (mom), daughter 9, years old
“ I am a perfectionist. I have always wanted everything that I have planned to work out accordingly. When I was pregnant with my first child I imagined that she would grow to be brilliant and perfect, just like her father. I thought this way because her father was a top student in his secondary school and the top student in University as well. I imagined the same for my daughter, I wanted the very best for her life, and I wanted my husband to be proud of her accomplishments. But ever since we found out my daughter has Autism everything changed. I have had to learn how to let go of my perfectionist nature and to learn that this ‘control’ I once thought I had was no longer mine. My daughter’s diagnosis has forced me to let go of my rhythm and to follow along in hers. The path is not easy but it is clear that control is no longer mine, and perfection now looks very different.”
Priya (mom), son 9, years old
“From a young age, my dreams and ambition were to be a banker and to be in top management. Everything I did in life worked towards attaining that specific goal. By the time I had my son I was a VP of a bank subsidiary, I was on the right track to my dream. However, when I finally came to terms with my son’s diagnosis at the age of 5, my track changed. The career path I was on came to a halt. For me deciding to resign though challenging and painful, was necessary.
In time I found a new dream, and now my dream is dedicated to helping my son get on his track. I have taken up several courses since 2015 such as, school readiness and the transition period, understanding what is sensory and how does it help in child’s development, and “Bengkel D.I.Y Terapi Pertuturan Untuk Ibubapa dan Guru”. These courses helped me to educate myself to help my son be the best version of himself. Besides that, I believe that the knowledge I have can be useful to help other parents as well. As a mother, a woman, and just a person I understand the frustration that comes with the sacrifices that must be made with these challenging positions we find ourselves in. I am blessed to have the means to be able to further my knowledge through courses but I understand that not everybody does. This is why I strongly believe in using my knowledge and my experience to help motivate other parents on the same journey. My corporate career has now turned into a motivational career and it brings me great joy to be able to help other parents.”
Athena (mom), son 9, years old
“We took my son for behaviour therapy, but that did not work out as I was not satisfied with the improvement. So, I decided to take up a course myself, through SEED Autism Services I became a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT). I wanted to understand more about how to deal with behaviour issues myself. I figured, I spent 7 days a week, who understands him better than me. I am trying to read up more about lots of “how-to” and putting that into practice. At times, it is frustrating but I had to toughen up and I am determined now more than ever to get this work in!
Adelyn (mom), daughter 10, years old
“My perspective of my life has changed. I have learnt a lot from my daughter. I now view success differently and I celebrate her success no matter how small they are. There was a time that I used to travel frequently for my job and work long hours. Now I work flexible hours to spend time with her and send her for her therapy sessions. From a financial point, therapy and school, fees are expensive and do change certain aspects of our lives but it has also taught us how to manage our budget wisely. Before my daughter was diagnosed with autism I didn’t have many friends. But now I have found a few good friends, other parents, with autistic kids too. Together we support one another.”
Emily (mom), son 13, years old
“I may not be climbing the corporate ladder like my friends or even traveling aboard. My life definitely changed. It changed for the better! 10 years has taught me that while not everyone is going to be accepting of children with special needs in the community, it is our job to educate and create awareness, it is our job to teach our children to not feel inferior to others out there. They might be different but they are not less than you and me. My son has taught me to slow down, look at things from a different perspective, and just appreciate life. Now I see things from more of a humorous perspective as well. My son gave me the strength and motivation to want to be a better person and that leads me back to studying, I have studied for an Advanced Diploma in Special Education, took a Registered Behavioural Technician (RBT) training course, and now I am in the midst of pursuing my Masters in Education ( Special Education ) at University Malaya. All this is with the hopes that I can bring about some small changes to help children and families with autism in the future. But for now, my motto is one step at a time.”