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COMMON Medical term: Autism/Global Dev Delay/Seizures/Cerebral Palsy/Down's Syndrome

This is a discussion on COMMON Medical term: Autism/Global Dev Delay/Seizures/Cerebral Palsy/Down's Syndrome within the Parenting Special Needs Child forum, part of the MummySG Special Group category; Flexing his muscles for autism , Mypaper THREE days ago, Manhunt Singapore 2014 (senior category; 30 years old and above) ...

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    Flexing his muscles for autism, Mypaper
    THREE days ago, Manhunt Singapore 2014 (senior category; 30 years old and above) finalist Andrew Ang's heart swelled with joy when his eight-year-old son passed him his car keys. This may seem run-of-the-mill to most parents but, for Mr Ang, it was a clear sign that his child Alex wanted to communicate with him.

    Six years ago, the boy was diagnosed with severe autism.
    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour. Since then, Mr Ang, a 41-year-old businessman, has been worrying for his son. He hopes his son, the middle child of his three children, can one day lead an independent life.

    His oldest child, a daughter, 10, has had open heart surgery for congenital heart disease, which is a problem with the heart's structure and function that is present at birth. Mr Ang, who is 1.73m tall and weighs 65kg, said he joined Manhunt this year to be an inspiration to his children.

    His message to them: No matter how tough it gets, dont't ever give up. He told The New Paper: "When Alex was diagnosed, it was very difficult for us. We had no idea what was going on, so we had to seek help. "The one-to-one therapy, which has cost us $4,000 every month for the last six years, has helped a lot." Mr Ang recalled that three days ago, he had left his house only to realise he had forgotten his car keys. So he went back to get them and Alex, who was there when he opened the door, passed the keys to him.

    Said Mr Ang: "I was stunned. I didn't know that he could communicate with me. To other parents, this is such a simple thing. But to me, this means he's actually seeing some light and knows what's going on. "I hope my son can take of himself when I'm gone.

    "I joined Manhunt also with the hope of raising awareness of autism, so that Singaporeans will be more tolerant of people who have it." This determination to overcome adversity comes from the fact that he grew up poor in a kampung in Jalan Ulu Sembawang where, at a young age, he had to help his parents protect their livestock from pests such as rats and snakes.

    As a child, he had to feed the ducks and pigs, as well as water 300 lime and durian trees. On some days, he had only soya sauce and plain porridge for meals. His family moved out of the kampung years later and it fuelled his determination to succeed. He juggled several jobs: as a newspaper delivery boy working at the break of dawn, as a street and telesurveyor on weekdays and as a drinks and tidbits vendor on weekends. This was on top of his electrical-engineering diploma studies at Singapore Polytechnic. Said Mr Ang, who was a finalist in Manhunt Singapore 1993 but did not win: "Living in the kampung is about being open, caring and sharing. It's never about wealth or status. I'm a kampung boy."

    HUNK PARADE: Mr Ang (third from right, with other finalists in the senior category) joined Manhunt this year to be an inspiration to his children, one of whom is autistic, and also to raise awareness of autism, so that Singaporeans will be more tolerant of people who have the neurodevelopmental disorder.

    Living with autism
    When she gave birth to her first child seven years ago, Ms Brenda Tan, 37,had no clue that the boy, Calder, would be different.
    Then, there were some warning signs. At 18 months old, Calder didn't like to look at other people and he still couldn't talk. He also seemed obsessed with spinning the wheels of his toy cars.
    As she had no comparison, Ms Tan didn't realise anything was amiss. It was only after a routine check-up that a paediatrician raised the red flag . Ms Tan tells The New Paper on Sunday: "The paediatrician called out his name but he didn't turn to look at her. He just continued doing his own thing.

    "She also asked him where his eyes and his nose were - to get him to point. But he didn't seem to understand her."
    He was then referred to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital where it was suggested Calder go into child care in the hope that social interaction with other children would improve his speech and social skills.

    Ms Tan wasn't ready for the news.
    "I was in a daze for a year, wondering what happened. At the same time, I read up voraciously on autism," she says.
    Since then, Ms Tan has learnt to come to terms with her son's condition.

    Bringing up Calder has been "very interesting, if challenging," says Ms Tan. For example, he used to be a stickler for routines.

    She explains: "He was very rigid. He wanted the same route to the school. We could not change the route at all.
    "He wanted the same patterns - after kaya bread, he had to have a serving of bread with jam too."
    If the routine was broken, he would have a meltdown. He would run wildly in big circles or run off while crying loudly. It would be very hard to calm him down, she says.

    "It was very frustrating because it didn't make sense to follow such rigid sequences. It was also very stressful because he was very stubborn," she adds. Now, Calder is no longer so rigid about routines. That progress will hopefully continue at the Eden School for children with autism. He joined the school, which is in Bukit Batok, in January this year.

    Ms Tan says he "delights" in disappearing acts. Recently he went missing when she was about to take him to the supermarket.
    Ms Tan says: "When I was locking up the door, he ran down the stairs. As I had a trolley, I could not chase after him fast enough.
    "By the time I came down, I couldn't see or hear him any more. "I ran down 14 floors, listening for sounds that he makes. I couldn't find him, so I called out his name and then I went back up the 14 floors of stairs.
    "He came back, laughing. He's totally fearless."

    Ms Tan is concerned he doesn't realise how dangerous the world, and in particular, traffic can be. She says: "I told my husband that we should have some GPS system to track him down. "My autistic boy made me realise my own vulnerability. There is so little I can do to help him and his autism will never go away." Ms Tan's advice to other parents with autistic children: "Take it one step at a time. That way, you will feel less overwhelmed."

    To promote a better understanding of the condition, she has written a book, Come into my world: 31 stories of Autism in Singapore. It's a collection of true stories shared by Singaporean parents of autistic children. She says: "I have come to realise that at the end of the day, what is most important is that the child knows he or she is dearly loved. So surround your child with your love."

    Debunking autism myths
    Autism sufferers, especially children, can be stigmatised and discriminated against as a result of the disorder. Ms Frances Yeo, principal psychologist at The Child Development Centre, helps to debunk some myths about autism.

    Myth: Autism is a psychiatric or mental illness.
    It isn't. Autism is a neurodevelopmental (or brain development) disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate, form relationships and interact with the demands of the environment.
    When stressed out or placed in situations without the necessary skills, people with autism may display unusual behaviour, flapping their hands or spinning.

    Myth: It is a phase that children will 'grow out' of.
    There is no cure for autism. It is a lifelong disorder.
    But research supports the notion that outcomes improve significantly when children receive structured intervention at the earliest possible age.

    Myth: Autism is due to bad parenting.
    Parents should not feel guilty if their child develops autism - it is a developmental disability that results from a neurological disorder affecting the functioning of the brain.

    Myth: Autism is caused by gluten and casein in the child's diet, or by childhood vaccinations.
    There is no scientific evidence yet that proves autism is caused by either.

    Myth: Autistic children cannot talk.
    Autism symptoms vary widely between children and no two children are alike.
    Some children have intact language skills while others may not talk at all.

    Myth: Autistic children all have intellectual disability.
    Not all children with autism have intellectual disability. Autistic children can have normal to high intelligence. Some may develop very advanced reading levels at a very young age.

    Myth: All autistic children display the same behaviour.
    Autism covers a wide spectrum. Some children are sensitive to loud sounds and may cover their ears while some may engage in hand-flapping. Also, not all children with autism tiptoe - one of the warning signs in toddlers. Some make no eye contact while others may briefly glance at others.

    Diagnosed with autism at birth, but driven to succeed

    Mustafa Syed Ahmad was born prematurely, leaving him with mild autism."He was so small at birth, only 900g," said his mother, Madam Siti Aifah Fadanie, 68, her voice cracking. "When he was young, everyone said he was stupid and would never pass his PSLE or N levels. But I never believed that."

    Now, Mustafa has started working as a guest service officer at the five-star Crowne Plaza Hotel in Changi Airport. He impressed the hotel during an internship in his final semester at Republic Polytechnic (RP). He graduated with a Diploma in Hotel and Hospitality Management on May 21, 2014.

    Stressed over autistic child
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    Study shows autism risk is half genetic, half environmental
    Last edited by Angelmum; 04-07-2014 at 10:30 AM.
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