Hope and Gratitude

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My last post wasn’t very optimistic, so despite my busy schedule, I am determined to write another one just to do my share of encouraging anyone who reads this, to have hope and to always look forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel; and more importantly, to cherish this time when you CAN stay at home and prepare your meals and/or sleep in instead of rushing to work without breakfast.

I, too, cherish this time when I can be with my son for a much longer time — we’ve been together since December 23rd when I came home, and then we left for China and stayed there for a little over 2  weeks, and then came back home on the 11th of January. My flight was cancelled three times; I rebooked 3 times. Finally a couple of days ago, I just asked for a refund.

With the “community quarantine” order in our city, classes have been cancelled; malls have been closed; public transportation, suspended. Thankfully, being at home all day has not really affected my 9-year old son that much. He has not gone to school or to his occupational and speech therapies for almost a month now, but simply having all of us at home — me, my two sisters and my 17-year-old nephew — is enough to make him happy. He does speaking, reading and writing  activities with my sister, and PE activities with my nephew. Having my sisters and nephew at home allows me to do my online teaching for the university. Though I am way busier now than if I were back in China teaching in a classroom, I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my son and be able to contribute to the progress he makes by reading to him, talking and playing with him.

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This is not the first pandemic the world has seen, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. But humanity survived previous pandemics when they did not have as much means to fight the enemy as we do now with advances in science and technology; when they did not have as easy a means to share information as we do now. I don’t think it is a false hope that we will overcome this one.

So believe that things will be better because they will. And in the meantime, focus on the many things you can do while stuck at home — because if you really look, you’ll find there are many tasks just waiting to be done that you have not been able to do because you had to go to work. Now is the time.

May you always find a reason to be hopeful and grateful.

 

 

The Precariousness of Life

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This photo was taken exactly a month ago when my family went to a park. Back then we never thought it would be sometime before we could go out for a stroll again. Our city has been under a “community quarantine” for almost three weeks now. My sister, my nephew and my son have not left our house for almost a month now. I get to go out for essentials.

The streets are eerily quiet; most businesses are closed. The streets and the air are much cleaner, but somehow it is not easy to enjoy the quiet and the clean air when you are very much aware of how people who have lost their jobs are suffering and fearing for their future.

These are very uncertain times.

When I left China in early January, I thought I would be back in two weeks. Now, it’s almost three months that I have not seen my husband, and we still do not have any idea when we will see each other again, or when he will see our son again. Sure, technology allows us to talk with each other everyday, but we all know the limits of technology.

Perhaps it will be sometime before our world goes back to normal. Even then, it will probably be a different normal.

The only certainty is: life goes on. Sadly not for everyone; but for humanity as a whole, it goes on and will continue to go on.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

T.

Traveling with a Child with Autism

My son was only 5 months old when we took a 1-hour and 20-minute flight to Manila and then a 2-hour international flight. I don’t remember him ever crying on the plane.

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For the next five years, we flew an average of 8 flights a year, and though there were a couple of times he did not want to sit during takeoff or landing, most of the time he behaved himself well. The bigger he is getting though, the more worried I become about travelling with him because of how he behaves, not in the plane, but in the airport where he loves running around. But so far, for the past 9 years, I have always been grateful at the end of each trip that both of us made it to our destination safe and sound.

Going through security check

I can’t remember what year the pat down at the airport that we often go through started, but when it did my son who, back then (ages 4-7) was easily scared by strangers who tried to touch him, would scream and try to run when an officer approached him. A couple of times, a supervising officer yelled at me to hold my son and calm him down even after I explained that he was autistic. That was 4 or 5 years ago, and the officers doing the security check have since become more understanding and crouch down to my son’s eye level and do the check while I rhythmically say “pat, pat, pat, pat” with him. Whew.

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In December last year, we took a train to another city and also took the subway several times which meant going through security checks several times. By the time we had to take a flight home, he had gotten so used to the pat down that it didn’t bother him anymore.

Practice makes perfect.

Gadgets and toys

Unless he is very sleepy or very tired, my son would never sleep while traveling. He likes being in a car, train, bus or plane and look outside the window, singing. But if there is nothing interesting to see, then that’s when he asks for the iPad. I always make sure the gadgets are fully charged whenever we travel because some planes still do not have power outlets/USB ports in the seats.

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My son always needs to have something in his hands to play with and always wants to be chewing or biting something. He started biting his hands and fingers about a year ago, so we bought him chewy tubes which have been a blessing. Fidget spinners have also been a huge help in keeping his hands busy.

These three things I never forget to bring when I travel with my son: iPad, fidget spinner and Chewy Tubes.

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Each child on the spectrum has his/her own specific needs, and perhaps your child does not need a fidget spinner or a chewy tube, but the point is, apart from packing food, always remember to pack something to keep your child occupied. Traveling with a child on the spectrum does not have to be stressful, and it is good to let them experience traveling as often as possible so they will get used to it. The only way they will learn to cope with the difficulties of traveling is by actually doing it. It may be stressful for the family at first, but in time, the child will learn. It needs a lot of patience, but things will be better.

Experience is key.

Keeping the child at home to avoid embarrassment is not helping anyone, especially the child with special needs.  

Burning Forest

Burning Forest

This is my son’s latest “abstract painting.” When I woke up the morning after he painted this, I thought it looked like a forest is burning, so now I call it “Burning Forest.”

I honestly don’t think he had a forest in mind. As usual he was just playing with the brush. But my husband and I were quite happy with the result and now it’s hanging on our wall.

Optimism

Took my son to the beach last weekend

I had planned to let my son stay with us in China for a month in January but disappointed by my husband’s busy schedule at work, I decided to bring my son home after two weeks. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life — a blessing in disguise. I don’t know how I would have handled the situation if I and my 9-year-old son with ASD were stranded in China or quarantined!

As it is, we have a longer break from work which means longer time spent with my son, but my husband is all alone in our apartment back in China. I try not to worry but can’t help when I read the news or hear about what’s happening from people who are in the country.

Still I’m optimistic that there’s an end to this, and it will end soon.

I am hoping and praying for it, especially because the people I am praying for do not believe in a power stronger than they are.

So much has happened in the weeks I have not posted on my blog, some I am so eager to share but can’t find time to write as I am busy being a full-time mom. I look forward to writing again and also reading posts from blogs I follow, but right now it is so difficult to find time when I’m home and fulfilling my roles as mother, sister and aunt. As always, family comes first.

I hope you are doing well. Thanks for visiting my blog.