現年25歲的智恆，起初孩童時期比較安靜，家人當時不以為意，認為只是其性格較內斂。直至三歲上學時老師覺得他行為孤僻，建議智恆去接受評估，才正式確認他有自閉症。智恆媽媽知道兒子的情況後沒有晴天霹靂，更將醫生的一字一句牢牢記住：「醫生說：『（養育有自閉症的孩子）是一場馬拉松 ── 你現在做得到，但如果走得太快，日後可能做不到；現在做不到，又不代表日後做不到。』」智恆就讀小學四年級時出現了其人生的一個轉捩點 ── 當時媽媽發現兒子能力確實追趕不上學習進度，而且他早上起床準備上學前便會頭痛。「需要改變某些事情時，在當刻才會想到（解決辦法）；很難在一年級時已計劃到他將來要讀甚麼，讀到幾多。讀不到的，就轉去特殊學校就讀吧！」沒有刻意催谷兒子，只順應他的成長和發展而作出最合適的決定，並與他共同挑選轉讀的特殊學校，這正正是智恆一家的開明教養方式。
相關報道 Related News (Chinese Only)
 https://bit.ly/3aaTdyl (Topick: 【關注自閉】自閉兒讀主流校科科50分壓力大 港媽安排轉特殊校見證兒出征奧運奪獎)
 https://bit.ly/3wT3BEC (HK01: 自閉症青年兩奪特殊奧運銀牌 顧定軒任關懷大使：不應標籤任何人)
Attitude determines altitude – exchanging unexpected gains by positivity and optimism
From being diagnosed with autism at three years old, to constantly breaking boundaries and accepting challenges, Chi Hang even was a representative of Hong Kong in the international competitions... Mom of Chi Hang said, “He has to go through his life anyway, just let him enjoy the process happily!” The Mom keeps instilling a positive philosophy of life in Chi Hang’s mind. Together with the tolerance and support from the family, Chi Hang eventually learnt to stand alone and become an independent youth.
Accept every aspect of the child, take things as they come to unfold the life marathon
Chi Hang, who is now 25 years old, was relatively quiet when he was small. His parents did not notice anything abnormal at that time, thinking that he just had an introverted personality. It was not until the age of three that his teacher observed that he tended to behave anything alone. The teacher then suggested Chi Hang going for a clinical examination, and he was then diagnosed with autism. Mom of Chi Hang did not treat the diagnosis as a bolt from the blue after knowing his son’s situation. She instead bore every word from the doctor in mind, “The doctor said, ‘(raising a child with autism is) just like a marathon – if you’re too aggressive, you may not accomplish the things that you are able to do now. Even if you can’t accomplish your goal now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it at a later stage. ’ ” A turning point arose when Chi Hang was in his primary four – at that time, his mom found that Chi Hang was not capable to track his learning progress. He would even have a headache before he went to school in the morning. “Whenever changes are needed, we can think (of the solutions) at that moment. It’s difficult to plan what and how much he can study; if he isn’t capable in an ordinary school, then just change to a special one!” Without deliberately boosting his son to learn, Chi Hang’s family made the most appropriate decision for him by solely following his growth and development. They even chose the special school together with Chi Hang, allowed him to grow up under such an open-minded parenting style.
Follow advices from professionals and let the child fly
Understanding that patience is needed for taking care of a child with autism and both parents and son takes time to adapt, the Mom is highly aware of the importance of seeking help from professionals. Recalling the time when Chi Hang was about three years old, he only wanted to have fun but was not willing to eat. She listened to the doctor’s advice and not to feed him anymore, letting Chi Hang understand that “you must eat when you are hungry”. As a result, one day after about two months, Chi Hang learnt to take the initiative to tell mommy he wanted to eat. He then learnt how to eat regularly starting from that time. The doctor also encouraged the Mom to continue to do the things that she liked, and to seek help from other family members and friends to take care of the boy. These practices allowed her, as a caregiver, to find ways to relax and maintain a favourable mentality to take care of her son. “I gradually understand that they (people with autism) need more time to think and experience. I can’t use my tempo to judge Chi Hang’s progress; he needs more time to learn, and learn how to behave well by himself.”
Take things as they come, and seize the opportunity at the moment
The Mom said that by exposing to different extra-curricular activities like basketball, skating and drawing, her son had more opportunities to communicate with different people. Chi Hang was joyful during the processes. At the same time, he has built up his self-esteem and improved his performance in different aspects. The Mom and the Son have never thought of such achievements, as they were just following Chi Hang’s development. The new school brought him even more opportunities to participate in overseas and international competitions as a teacher discovered Chi Hang’s athletic talents. Chi Hang then became a member of the Special Olympics team and received professional track and field training after school. He participated in 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games and 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games! Their philosophy of life are “to grasp every opportunity” and “to take the initiative to seek help from others when facing difficulties”. During his school years, Chi Hang also seized the opportunity to join exchange programmes to learn different cultures. The school principal was also delighted to introduce a part-time job to Chi Hang. All the above opportunities are not easily earned. By seizing the right moment, Chi Hang eventually became more independent and mature. The Mom said, “These are not in our plans at all. Whenever there’s opportunity, he grasps it, learn it, and improve from it. He therefore may gain more than others.”
Always be grateful and go through the life together optimistically
During the interview, the Mom and the Son often looked at each other with smiles. Especially when talking about some childhood memories of Chi Hang, their smiles were even more soft and gentle. Chi Hang keeps receiving positive messages, he is then nurtured to be optimistic and kind. The Mom mentioned that “we should learn to be grateful and always have a joyful heart”, “because of this (Chi Hang has autism), I have to be even more optimistic”. She is contented; everything will be alright as long as her son is healthy. It is obviously that a mother loves her child sincerely.
It has been more than 20 years since Chi Hang’s diagnosis of autism. From gently trying to get in touch between the parents and the Son, to finding a communication mode that best fits their family, these all depend on the family support and their positive mindset towards life. Although the life marathon of Chi Hang still has a long way to go, he has already broken through his personal boundaries and seized many opportunities to unleash his potentials. Most importantly, he always has “the best guide runner” accompanying him to enjoy the beautiful scenery along his trial.