善加的故事 Story of Sin Ka
Facing autism positively – we will see the light
在幼兒階段打好基礎 加強公眾教育 消除歧視
善加爸爸相信只要家長抱著正面的態度， 加上安排子女接受有效的專業治療，就能夠幫助孩子健康快樂地成長。「身為父母不免會為孩子的情況傷心和擔憂， 然而，我們更要抱著希望和樂觀態度，積極地幫助子女，例如放大孩子微小的成功和縮小他們的弱點，相信終可以找到一大片新大陸及放棄洩氣的救生圈，與家人一起迎接一道又一道美麗的曙光。」
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Sin Ka was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. During the journey of finding suitable treatments, Sin Ka’s father mentioned it was like floating in the sea, “We’ve been searching for lifebuoys (services), but the lifebuoys we caught leaked so quickly that we had to constantly look for the next lifebuoy with unknown effectiveness.” Fortunately, he stays positive in difficult times and wants to empower other parents of children with autism. Hope that the public would then pay attention to autism and the government would be willing to invest resources towards the issues of autism.
Limited resources for autism
Sin Ka’s father has been taking care of Sin Ka full-time since the boy was diagnosed with autism. The doctor he consulted only advised him to apply for services from different institutions on his own. He, therefore, ran around to look for treatments for Sin Ka without specific directions or comprehensive information. Sin Ka was then arranged to apply for Special Child Care Centres after the father's meeting with a social worker. Sin Ka is now four years old and receiving only four sessions of onsite pre-school rehabilitation services a month. Special Child Care Centres seem to be the only but faraway lifebuoy for Sin Ka and many other parents from the grassroots. Sin Ka’s father exclaimed and shared, “The government’s resource allocation is poor. We have to fight for everything by ourselves. The training quotas are very limited and the fees are expensive. The waiting time for subvented services is long as well.” On the interview day, the father received a call from a hospital. He sighed and said, “We’ve been waiting to see a doctor for more than a year. The resources are definitely insufficient.”
Parents have no choice but to become therapists
Sin Ka received a month of one-on-one intensive Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) treatment at APF’s Parents Resources Centre. Sin Ka’s father observed that his son’s comprehension and expression were improved. However, there is a lack of resources. Sin Ka’s father had to look for the next lifebuoy. He has therefore become Sin Ka’s therapist and conducts 45 minutes of home training with the boy every day. “I’m not a qualified therapist (without formal training), so I may make mistakes. Besides, many parents need counseling services and guidance. The most ideal solution is to receive professional treatment services.”
Build up a solid foundation at an early age, strengthen public education and eliminate discrimination
Like most children, children with autism face a variety of challenges at different developmental stages, such as rebellion. Sin Ka’s father said, “People with autism would also face problems at the workplace and in applying for jobs. Continuous support is very important. But the government only has short-term plans; families like us don’t have sufficient services, not to mention suitable and effective ABA treatment. We should help children build up a solid foundation in their early childhood instead of solving the problems generated after they have grown up. It would be too late by then.”
Autism has long-term impacts, and because children with autism cannot be distinguished by their appearance, it may not be easy to emphasise its seriousness. Sin Ka’s father hoped that the government can set up a dedicated department to help individuals with autism and their families. Parents would worry less if they have channels to seek help promptly. He also stated that the public does not take the initiative to understand autism and there are many misunderstandings and negative labels on autism. Some people would have prejudice against the whole autism spectrum due to some specific behaviours of a single individual with the same problem. He wished that the government and other service organisations can strengthen public education and explain the challenges that people with autism and their families may encounter, encouraging the public to accept people with autism.
Take the initiative to go into the community Optimism Brings Hopes
Facing discrimination and exclusion, Sin Ka’s father has chosen to handle them positively. He does not mind revealing that Sin Ka has autism. “If I’m afraid of revealing the truth, I’ll be the first one to discriminate my son. Others will follow.” He once met a child with autism displaying serious behaviours in a park, other parents immediately brought their children far away from that child. While that child’s mother felt embarrassed, Sin Ka’s father stepped forward to encourage her and also invited them to play together. He believes that children with autism would improve if they have more opportunities to interact with others and connect with the community, therefore he always encourages other parents to bring their children out.
Sin Ka’s father also believes that children can grow up happily with positive parents and also effective and professional treatments. He shared, “Being a parent, we definitely feel sad and worry about our children. However, we must look on the bright side of things and actively help our children. For example, we can focus on our children’s little successes and accept their weaknesses. We can discover a new land, give up the frustrating lifebuoy and welcome a beautiful dawn.”