Jerome and I just spent three special days with Sebastien, my 22-year-old autistic son, in the mesmerising island of Nusa Penida. Apart from the breathtaking scenery and memorable hiking experiences not for the faint-hearted, we immersed in the peace and tranquility of a beautiful villa nestled in a working farm with a panoramic view of the surrounding forests and mountains.
Most of all, I was deeply moved by our interactions with Komang, the villa cook who whipped up delightful home-cooked meals for us. Despite our language barriers, I understood everything she said with her teary eyes, her softened voice, and her gesture to her heart, when she told us how our love for Sebastien touched her.
Her empathy and kindness towards us, particularly Sebastien, exemplifies the tremendous support that we have received from family, friends, and complete strangers, who have heard our story and supported A Mother's Wish's cause to transform the lives of families of autistic individuals who are struggling to raise their loved ones, both in Singapore and the region.
As we head towards 2019, I am most grateful to be learning how to better connect with Sebastien through the eyes of love and acceptance, instead of fear and resignation. I owe it to Dr. Antonio Rinaldi for opening my "eyes" and teaching me how to interact with Sebastien with sensitivity and respect. Like many other autistic individuals, Sebastien is a unique and heroic spirit doing his best to thrive in a world that he wishes could feel more like home.
As a preview of our first two projects for the forthcoming year, A Mother's Wish looks forward to transforming your perspectives of autistic individuals and your relationships with them with these programmes:
1. February 16, 7 pm, Talk by Dr. Antonio Rinaldi (Clinical Psychologist) joining us via Skype: INSIDE THE AUTISTIC MIND: Introducing A.T.D.R.A. — A multi-pronged, empathy-centred approach to forging an authentic relationship with an autistic individual
Sponsored by A Mother's Wish, the cost of this 3-hour talk is just SGD11.60 (this fee is to discourage attrition).
2. Where Does My Autistic Son Belong? A Crowdfunding Self-Publishing Project to Raise Funds for A Mother's Wish and Sebastien
Towards the end of my autistic son Sebastien's first year of living in Bali, characterised by extreme highs and lows, the last thing I wanted to do was to "live" the entire experience again in the form of a book.
Yet there was a book within me that screamed to be written. This was how Where Does My Autistic Son Belong? came about.
For I had to come to terms with the heartbreaking decision I made of transplanting Sebastien to another country and creating a life for him, which was independent of mine.
Was I a bad mother who had abandoned her aggressive and self-injurious son?
Or was I a good one searching for a way for her son to be happy?
Beyond being a cathartic journey of self-examination, the book also offers the uninitiated and professionals an unflinching glimpse into what life is like when carers become trapped by the rigidities and anxieties of their young adult autistic children.
Yet, in spite of these seemingly insurmountable odds, our family carved out a path, aided by those who enveloped us within their embrace and provided us with a lifeline when we had felt resigned to our fate.
This is a real-life story of a journey from heartbreak to transformation, which testifies to the power of love with no limits and the resilience of the human spirit.
Please help to crowdfund for the publication of this book — Where Does My Autistic Son Belong? — by clicking on the link above.