Some say that motherhood is a walk in the park. Sure…I would agree with that statement…only that my ‘park’ has dinosaurs and all sort of horrifying monsters in it. No. That was sarcasm.
Seriously speaking, motherhood is not a walk in a park for me. It’s not a breeze as anyone elses’s experience and far from enjoyable as my child is different. Very different. He is not your regular child. He have autism. If you are not familiar about it, I’d suggest you to look it up on Google and do some reading before you blast me with all sort of frequently asked questions.
Having autism means my child is somewhat socially impaired. He is almost non-verbal and have developmental delays. He is not your regular kid and no, unlike other children his age, he does not excel academically nor he interact well with peers or people around him. My son also does not take interest in things other normal children takes interest in and when he was younger, he often have sensory overload that leads to mini seizure and meltdowns.
The uneducated and uninformed would accuse me for being a negligent parent and questioned my parenting skill, but the truth is that a child with autism is not your regular child although they look physically all right and good looking, even.
The earlier years was hellish for me. I had to face society’s judgment on me and I lack moral and emotional support and not to mention resources on how to deal with my child. Frankly speaking, I did not know how to deal with my own child.
But things can’t be bad forever. When I joined an oversea based autism support group on Facebook, things changed. I get real tips, real advice from real parents who are taking care of children with autism themselves. That alone beats all ‘advises’ that I get from ‘professionals’ and people around me who couldn’t possibly know how it is really like to deal with autism first hand.
My life and my son’s life started to change and improve for the better when we started to do things differently. I ditched all the normalcy in raising a child and used different methods to deal with life, and wow…things really got better.
My son, who was completely non-verbal previously started to developed eccholalia and started to have interactions with people around him. From not having eye-contact with anyone when spoken to, he started to look into people’s eyes. From not being toilet trained at an advanced age, he started to use the toilet on his own. From being afraid of being in the crowd, he followed me everywhere to events and even go on media trips with me.
So…what did I do to help my son improve? The answer is simple. I stopped listening to judgmental people who are mostly friends, family and relatives with normal children, and instead of trying to teach my son and force him to excel academically like other normal children, I started to concentrate on giving him hands-on experience on how to survive the world. Instead of locking him up at home upon people’s suggestion like I used to as he doesn’t have any sense of manners or skills to deal with the society, I started to bring him out and let him get used to things. I bring him to work with me…attend events and food reviews with me, travel to loads of places in Malaysia with me and he improved tremendously. Instead of spoiling him and being overprotective, I taught him to familiarize himself on how to take public transport with me and he now no longer feel so at loss whenever we take public transport or LRT to move about in the city.
Instead of restraining him, I give him freedom to explore the world around him and allow him to experiment with things instead of stopping him like I used to. I adopted cats as pets and encourage him to bond with the pets. It is a wonderful form of therapy, I kid you not. It instill the sense of responsibility and empathy in him.
We also started doing things like attending cooking demonstrations together, taking photos together at every opportunity that we get when we are outside, do painting together etc. I’m happy to say that he improved greatly when I stopped pushing him academically. Basically, I just concentrate on what he can do instead of what he can’t do.
Here’s a video of us taking on the world, our way. We did various things together in our venture to get out of our comfort zone and be extra-ordinary. 😉
I treat my son more like a younger brother rather than just a son these days too and unlike other parents who used smart phones and tablets as a ‘babysitter’ or as a tool to keep their children occupied, I use it as a form of communication and educational tool. I installed all sort of autism friendly apps like Talking Tom and Talking Angela to get my son to learn how to talk. I also installed piano apps to improve his concentration skills and listening skills.
I allow my child to use his iPad without restricting him, so he have access to the Internet and he is now able to search for things that he want and watch things that he want via YouTube too. He may not be able to read or write in the normal sense of the word like other children his age… But he could when using iPad, so for now, that is good enough for me. 🙂
Some disagree with what I’m doing…allowing him to use iPad whenever he like, but I beg to differ. Like I said, we use it as a communication and a learning tool instead of a babysitting tool. I never allow him to use it outside of the house, ever, and bringing it to the dining table to fiddle with is strictly prohibited. iPad at dining table, regardless of the circumstances to keep him occupied is a no no. And same goes when we are traveling or visiting relatives.
And speaking of an unconventional ways of teaching my son, I also allow him to watch all sort of edutainment programs.
And the most recent one that caught my attention is Chi Chi & Cha Cha, a locally produced edutainment show.
ChiChi & ChaCha is Asia’s 1st Live Action & 3D animation edutainment program for children.
Through Chi Chi & Cha Cha, both parents and children can look forward to learning a wide variety of topics from their live-hosts.
And dance too. All of these fun and educational things run throughout the episodes for both children’s learning enjoyment. Chi Chi & Cha Cha edutainment show include 3D animation, which are exciting ways for children to remember the lesson.
There is also an arts and crafts segment to nurture the budding talents of the child.
I’m always careful on what I let my son watch, but I can safely recommend Chi Chi& Cha Cha to all parents with young children out there. The show’s 3D animated cast consists of twins, who are the male and female tigers ChiChi & ChaCha, along with Atan who is an orangutan and Hujan the jungle boy.
The host for the show is five friendly kid stars of Astro, Harris, Afiq, Sweet, Leen and Farisha.
ChiChi & ChaCha is catered towards kindergarten and early primary children between the ages of 6-8 and aired at 10.30am on Astro Ceria 3 times a day, from Monday to Friday. The language used for this edutainment program is Bahasa Malaysia and ChiChi & ChaCha can be viewed on Astro Ceria, which is channel 611 and also Astro Maya HD Channel 135.
More detailed information on Chi Chi & Cha Cha edutainment show can be obtain from https://www.chichiandchacha.com/. So if you wanna do a lil homework about it before allowing your lil tots to watch, just head over to their website.
Having screened Chi Chi &Cha Cha personally, I think it is not only a good show but also a good platform to give more exposure to my son, leading me to wonder if I can take things further with my son by getting him involved directly in the show itself. And well…as if it’s a sign from above, I spotted this:
proPassion, Taylor’s University’s student PR consultancy is collaborating with Kyanite TV and Big Fish Media to organise “Be The Next ChiChi & ChaCha Star”, a star search for kids and teens aged between 6 to 18 years old to perform live with the hosts of hit TV show, ChiChi & ChaCha (CC2) in 2015.
The event will be held on 15-16th November 2014 at The Main Place, USJ 21 to find the most talented boy and girl who will walk away with RM 1,000 cash each, be featured on YouTube and join the 2015 tour with Chi Chi &Cha Cha celebrity hosts. Both winners will be invited to train, choreograph and perform with the five ChiChi & ChaCha hosts – Sweet, Afeiq, Farisha, Leen and Harris – to unlock and refine their future potential.
To participate in the Be The Next Chi Chi & Cha Cha star all you need to do is:
1. Register yourself at https://goo.gl/forms/YlQy3bx5VC
2. Take a video of your talent in less than 15 seconds on Instagram (sing, dance or act) then share it on your Facebook account
3. Shout out “Saya nak jadi bintang ChiChi & ChaCha” in your video
4. Tag one of your favorite hosts ( @afeiq, @farisha_iris, @jazashazleen, @harrisalif, or @fqisminaa) and @chichidanchacha )
30 entrants will be picked for the Challenge Round on 15th November where they will be given 90 seconds to showcase their talents.
From this group, the Top 10 will be selected to proceed to the Grand Final on 16th November. They will be tested based on 3Ps – Performance, Potential and Personality. All finalists will be given maximum 4 minutes to showcase their talents and dance to Chi Chi & Cha Cha songs.
Apart from that, there’s is also “Be The Next ChiChi & ChaCha Star” Nominating Contest waiting for you! This contest provides a special reward for the nominators where they have to nominate only ONE talented person around them and showcase the person’s talent within 15 seconds or less. Should the nominees be selected as a finalist on the Challenge Round, he or she will win RM100 in cash and a free autographed ChiChi & ChaCha T-shirt.
Well, well, well…how about that? A child star search. 🙂 I’m still contemplating about this, but if you think your child have what it takes to be a child star, then hop over to https://www.facebook.com/propassioncommunications to find out more about the event and in the meantime, let me pen down and go have some fun time with my son. 😉