April 2nd Is Autism Awareness Day


Hi. This is Haziq’s Mum and I want to highlight April as the Autism Awareness Month. April 2nd is International Autism Awareness Day.

In 2009, Autism Speaks*, worked with cities and organizations around the world to promote Autism Awareness by lighting up major buildings and landmarks with blue lights on the night of April 1st.

The project was called“Light It Up Blue”. I am not quite sure why the color blue was selected to represent Autism but I guess it would be difficult to follow the internationally known colors of the Autism Awareness Ribbon because of its multitude of colors that signifies the diversity of this disorder. Here’s a thumbnail.

Last year, on the night of April 1, prominent buildings across North America and the world including the Empire State Building in New York City and the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada were lit up blue to raise awareness for autism and to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day on Friday, April 2. In addition to the blue lights, Autism Speaks also recommended that local communities join in the Autism Awareness Month with activities ranging from walks and events to wearing blue clothing, blue jewelry, and so forth. I am looking forward to see what they have lined up for April 2011. Wouldn’t it be great if our own majestic Twin Towers joined in the show of support? It would have been a sight to behold.

Here’s some pics of buildings in Canada and U.S.A bathed in blue light in support of Autism Awareness Day. It’s a touching sight and simply BEAUTIFUL!

Toronto Skyline on April 1st

Autism Speaks is an autism advocacy organization that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public. It was founded in February 2005 by Bob Wright, vice chairman of General Electric, and by his wife Suzanne, a year after their grandson Christian was diagnosed with autism.

With my family by my side


Lots of things have happened since my last post but Mum has not been in the right frame of mind to write since my Nenek (Grandma) became very ill. Nenek has recovered, Thank God but is still a bit weak. We will be celebrating her 83rd birthday this weekend. Yay, you know how I love birthdays. In fact we celebrated my sister’s 14th birthday two weeks ago. Mum and sis spent the day together doing “girlie stuff” which I think meant shopping and that meant I couldn’t follow. I thought I could at least suggest my favorite restaurants for the birthday dinner venue….. TGIF, Chili’s, Swiss Marche. Apparently sis did not appreciate the “help”. Well, she sure took like forever to decide (which annoyed me) and I was relieved when she finally choose Italian. I was afraid she might pick Japanese food which I have not acquired a taste for.

I was again trying be of help when I suggested birthday gifts for her. She was horrified at my suggestion of a frock. Frock? WHO uses that word?? she demands. Ok, ok dress then!! I said. That did not help much cos it was definitely not what she wanted. Mum explained that little sis has grown up and the stuff that she now prefers have also changed. There we go again, that word “change”. Of course I have noticed the changes. I noticed the toys she has given away, the cartoons we don’t watch together anymore and how upset she gets when I forget to knock before I enter her room. I still cannot understand this thing called ‘change’ but it’s always followed by Mum telling me that its okay, everything will be alright.

Last week we gathered for a family barbeque in Nenek’s newly renovated gazebo. It’s been a long time since we had one and boy did we make up for it. Mum made lamb sausages smothered with a Greek yoghurt sauce which I cannot pronounce the name of, yummy scalloped potatoes and a rich chocolate trifle to add to the spread of satay, chicken, shrimp, squid, pasta, garlic bread and even grilled pumpkins. Everything was perfect except we missed brother who was away at campus. Lunch lasted for almost 4 hours!. Surprisingly, come dinner time we still found space for my aunt’s coriander rice, prawn sambal and a nice Malaysian salad. What a fun, gastronomical day but the most wonderful thing everyone agreed, was the lovely sight of Nenek sitting, laughing and eating with us….like her old self.

P.S We were so busy eating, we forgot to take photos of the fantastic BBQ! I do however, have a pic of sis at her birthday dinner. Sis was beaming with pleasure when Mum congratulated her choice of a superb, adult restaurant.

Sis really enjoyed that dessert

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. – Mother Teresa

A lesson from the Wild


Today’s post is by me, Haziq’s mum. I came across this beautiful picture of a silverback gorilla contentedly sitting in a still pond covered with vegetation. There it sits seemingly oblivious to the photographer and all else. A quick glance suggests that the gorilla is merely looking at a leaf just before munching it. Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s a gentle breeze and the gorilla is enjoying a quiet moment watching the delicate leaf swaying in the breeze. This picture struck so deep within me because I have seen my son in this same quiet pose much of his toddler life. Replace the gorilla with a child and there’s Haziq, sitting calmly in the water (always calm when in water) and playing with any leaf within his reach. Oddly enough I do not recall the same fascination with flowers. Perhaps flowers are too diverse or offer too much sensory stimulation for his brain to take in.

When in the sea, leaves are replaced by seaweeds. He would run his fingers through them, loving the tactile responses and laughing to himself. I remember being upset and snatching them away and forcing him to play ball or catch or whatever the cousins were doing in the water. I did not want people looking at my son as if he was a freak. If I knew then what I know now I would have understood that collecting seaweeds and gleefully hiding fingers into the squishy mass was a form of play for him. It probably gave him a comforting sense of connection….. that his hands were somehow part of his body. I learned this from a book written by a mildly autistic woman named Donna Williams who succeeded in fighting her way out of ‘her autistic world’ into ‘their world’ – the world where reality resides. She explained that all parts of her body felt disconnected when she was autistic and knew something was different that miraculous morning because for the first time she could actually feel her legs attached to her body. She felt connected, whole. I read the book so many years ago but I remember that revelation of hers was like a stab in the heart. I walked around that day paralyzed with grief because for the very first time I understood what it was like to be him.

Enjoy the photo taken by a very inspiring National Geographic photographer, Ian Nichols. How I wish I had taken a similar photo of Haziq sitting in the water playing with his leaf. It would have offered a very interesting angle of Man vs Animal. Lastly, a quotation about animals that Haziq would surely agree on whole heartedly;

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms – George Elliot

It’s my birthday!


I love love love birthdays! Every October 9th I am THE MOST SPECIAL PERSON in the world. That’s how it feels. What’s so special? Well, for starters, I get to name WHATEVER restaurant I wish to have my birthday dinner. Nobody says ‘No’ to me. I get to eat sweet, sugary stuff. Of course there are the presents. I often get money as presents. Excuse me if I don’t seem delighted to receive money as a birthday present. I understand the general idea  of money… it buys you stuff etc but I haven’t quite grasped the different values of money. I mean I don’t know when to shout out with joy….when I receive a RM100 or a RM1 as a gift. That’s because I have no idea what RM100 can buy compared to RM1. Mum tried teaching me the value of money for years but in this one she has not succeeded.

I want to dress like that

I often misplaced money when I was young. This is what happened a number of times with my Hari Raya money so I was trained to surrender it to Mum for safe-keeping asap. The first time I earned my own money was when I got paid for working in the staff cafeteria of a hotel as part of an industrial placement scheme for children from Special Education stream. When Mum asked what I wanted to do with the salary I asked Mum to buy me a vest, a cowboy hat and boots. Mum was so puzzled until I explained that I wanted to be like Woody in Toy Story 2, my favorite movie at that time. She explained that people don’t dress that way in real life and I will look very odd indeed. Sometimes I think ‘real life’ is a very boring place.

Anyway, for today real life is not at all boring. I’m looking forward to the dinner. However this year I had to promise not to choose a Tex-Mex restaurant. Seems everyone but me is sick of it. Before dinner they promised to take me to a karaoke where I can sing my heart out. Today nobody can take the mike away from me unless I willingly give it up….which I won’t. The only thing I had to promise was to pick other songs besides Disney and oh yes, to use my own voice instead of mimicking others. I do a pretty mean version of  ‘Thriller’….dance steps and all (well it depends who you ask). I hope you will have as good a birthday as I’m gonna have today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!!

May you live all the days of your life. – Jonathan Swift

P.S I will post pics of my birthday later.

“My Name is Khan”……… the movie


This is Haziq’s Mum, Shimah. Yesterday we watched a movie called “My name is Khan”. I am not a great fan of Bollywood’s love tragic drama, break-out-into-a-song routine kind of movies but this one was very different indeed. Incredibly it did not have even one sing-dance number. It did have the popular star, Shah Rukh Khan who I must admit is very pleasing to the eyes but the greatest motivating factor to watch this movie was because he played the character of an autistic man. Well, an extremely high-functioning man with Asperger’s Syndrome. I say that not because he  can invent a device to pump out water from a flooded compound or that he could tackle the complexities of public transportation but because he fell in love (recognized the emotion, love for the opposite sex), had the desire for marriage and became responsible for another human. True, my knowledge and familiarity with autism is limited to my own life experience and all that seems unlikely where my son Haziq is concerned. At 22 he is more interested in theme parks than the cutest girl in front of his very eyes.

Back to the movie, kudos to the actor who played the young Khan. He portrayed a very believable autistic boy. I actually had the movie for over a month but waited till I was ready because I knew it would bring back sad memories of my coping with his disability. Watching the part where the young Khan was bullied brought me back to the time when I furiously waded into a hotel swimming pool fully dressed, to confront 3 bullies who were having fun pulling down Haziq’s swimming trunks repeatedly. Three young boys who did not know each other but formed a kinship when they found a common subject to bully. The saddest thing was one of the fathers was right there in the pool, grinning at his son’s antics. After I said some sharp words to the 3 bullies, the father just gave me a bored look and swam away with his son. In my fit of anger I cursed him and wished upon him the reality of having his own child diagnosed as autistic one day. Moments later the regret sets in. It should never, ever, be something to wish upon another parent.

Still feasting


It feels like a non-stop buffet, these Hari Raya open house invitations. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to complain. I love to eat but I hear Mum and Dad exclaiming how they have put on more weight these last two weeks than any lost (if any) during a whole month of fasting. Mum says I’m lucky that I can stay slim when I have such a big appetite


"Frogs have it easy. They can eat what bugs them."

Frankly, I would take 3 helpings of Mum’s pasta if I was allowed to. She limits it to 2 maximum because she says anything more is simply greed. Thank God Mum makes an exception during festivities. During this time we eat till we’re stuffed. Since I relate well to animals, Mum <—- showed me this photo and said this is what we look like when we overeat.

The Open House invitations still keeps coming. There’s two tomorrow. I guess that’s to be expected coming from a large family on both sides of parents. I have 3 sets of cousins though whose fathers are non-Malays. They would often say how lucky we are to get duit Raya (money given as gifts given during the festival) from all our older cousins, uncles, aunties and granduncles on Dad’s side. Comes Christmas and we 3 siblings go green with envy looking at the gifts our cousins get from their uncles and aunties on their father’s side. But that’s what makes our Family so interesting and different from others. We present a diversity of nationalities, languages and skin colors! At first my 3 uncles could not understand how we Malays could eat non-stop throughout the day during the festivals. It took them a few years before they themselves got into the swing of things and can now keep up with us. My uncles said understanding our complex extended family tree was much harder to do. LOL.

Iwan, Johann, Andreas & Kak Lin...and there's alot more

Here’s a photo of some of my cousins doing their favorite thing… EATING

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are  doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti


Wish I was in Singapore with sis


My younger sister went to Singapore for a school trip. I went to many school trips before but never as far as Singapore. I asked Mum if I could follow. She said “You wouldn’t want to be with a busload of giggly girls”. Most times I don’t know what I want so I take the cue from Mum. That’s the way I learn. But this time I don’t get it. What’s wrong about being on the bus with a bunch of girls? They are heading for Singapore right? That’s where you find the Zoo, Night Safari and Universal Studios. That’s all I care about.

Sis (leftmost) at the Merlion with friends

Sis said they were not going to those places. Instead they were going to places like Arab Street, Clarke’s Quay, Little India etc . .  and the National Library. Huh? The library? Why would anyone want to visit the library instead of a theme park? Mum reminds me that it’s a school trip not a holiday tour so the girls will visit 2 local schools to reciprocate the visits these schools made to sister’s school. The girls are even performing a local dance, the zapin, in conjunction with the trip. OK so now I don’t feel so bad about being left behind. Still, it would be nice to go. I haven’t been there since I was 10 years old. Mum doesn’t have good memories of that trip. She said I behaved badly. I got into tantrums each time we got ready to leave any of the attractions especially the Zoo. Sigh… Mum sure has a long memory. I said to her “Sorry”. Is 13 years too late to apologize?

Anyway, sister’s back later today. Can’t wait to see what souvenir she’ll bring back for me.

P.S She’s back. Sis got me a FINE tee-shirt. Fine for littering, fine for spitting, fine for chewing gum!. Get it?. I like it. I wore it immediately.


My FINE tee-shirt souvenir

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