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"An Ordinary Life" for My Autistic Son

by Choo Kah Ying

When I sent these photos to a parent of an autistic adult son, he wrote back with a concise comment, “Seems like an ordinary life.” 

This "short and sweet" comment struck me with its simplicity on the surface.

For there was nothing "ordinary" about Sebastien's life in Bali, as captured in these images, which took place over two weeks recently.

In fact, Sebastien being engaged in purposeful activities that supported his daily existence — growing the food that he eats and making the furniture that he uses, or doing leisure activities with relaxation, were far from ordinary.

All of us — our carer team in Bali as well as Jerome and I (living abroad) —have been striving for such days since we moved Sebastien to the new location in Bali eight months ago. The construction of this home had taken place amidst much chaos and things gone wrong, which included yet another change of our carer team. 

Therefore, if I were to take a bigger step back, I would say that these two weeks had been 7.5 years in the making. It had taken this long for us to create an authentically strong team for Sebastien — individuals who truly cared about him, our distinctive approach, and their work, as well as establish a beautiful space of peace and quiet for Sebastien. 

Therefore, the making of this ordinary life was far more extraordinary than one could have imagined. It is easy to want to take it for granted, to want to think of it as Sebastien’s "happy ever after".  

Instead, from a distance, we choose to honour it as a milestone and embrace each day as it comes, focusing on doing our part to support our amazing carer team in Bali in their endeavour to do their best for Sebastien. 

In gratitude… 


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