Archive for October, 2010

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

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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.