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A Mother’s Wish for My Autistic Son Coming True — Bali 2.0

by Choo Kah Ying

What will happen to my autistic son when I am gone? Back in 2014, I created A Mother's Wish in an endeavor to create a community that could be there for my son, when I would no longer be around. I knew it would take a “village” to raise an autistic individual — a very special one — one that would need to have the heart, stamina, and spirit to go the distance. For this is what it will take to love an autistic individual, particularly a non-verbal one, as he grows into adulthood and beyond.
It didn’t happen for us in Singapore. But little did I know that the seeds of A Mother’s Wish community will end up being planted in a little village in a relatively remote part of Bali, away from the motley crowds. And hopefully, Sebastien, my autistic son, can finally find peace and joy in a place where he can truly belong.

My autistic son Sebastien's drawing and coloring of a house in nature back in 2014.

This is where we are collaborating with the locals, some of whom have interacted closely with Sebastien, and marshaling our resources to build a new home for him.
It's there where my desired values — that the home should be built in the spirit of shared trust, connection, honesty, transparency, and a collective commitment to the emphasis of care and joy for everyone involved for the sake of Sebastien — have resonated with everyone on board. This is how we are building Bali 2.0 — building back better.

On this Mother’s Day, I would like to honor all the incredible people on this team, including Hari, my carer who has been with Sebastien over the past six years. More than anyone else, Hari has learned to "read" the inner life of Sebastien to support him in his challenging life journey ahead.

Most of all, I would like to salute Sebastien for his resilience and hardiness in going the distance with us. Through all the ups and downs, including the changes in carers with ill intentions, Sebastien has held steady in his love for Bali.

In recent times, when I have received the precious few paintings of Sebastien, which have made it through the elements of the rural environment of Bali and survived against the odds over the past six years, I am reminded of Sebastien. To me, these paintings are resilience personified, not unlike their creator.

Don’t forget to sign up for the launch event of A Mother’s Wish’s “What is Autism Really Series”:

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