Tuesday, July 27, 2010


When we brought Rayyan to the pool last Sunday, he was super duper happy!! Kept smiling and laughing.. He must be elated that we understood what he wanted and acceded to his request. Hubby and I felt really happy and blessed just by looking at him :D

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Of little achievements

We usually bring Rayyan out on weekends but with the gloomy weather these days, we decided to stay at home yesterday. Nevertheless, even though the weather was gloomy yesterday, I felt pretty happy because of the little acts that Rayyan made..

Well, first, I am glad that Rayyan is nodding so 'beautifully' these days. Yes, nodding... While this act comes so naturally to neurotypical toddlers and even babies, it's not easy for some ASD kids to even nod (Rayyan included)... When we taught him to nod months back, we realised that he just couldn't.. I mean he just couldn't nod properly. Instead of just using his neck to lower his head, he would rock his body instead. It was really, really difficult for him to imitate us. So we resorted to holding his head and teaching him to nod by gently pushing his head down. And you know what, he started nodding by using his own hands and pushing his head down!! Since we used our hands and pushed his head down, he thought that was the correct way! He really took things literally (another autism trait)! But it was really, really cute that point of time and since it was difficult for him to nod properly, we let it be...

But recently, after observing some children at AAS, I decided that it's just not proper. People will make fun of him if he continues to nod in that manner. So decided to teach him again and this time, I was a bit more strict. Didn't give him any rewards until he nod properly which is by using his neck and pushing his head down. I also had to hold on to his hands to stop him from using his hands to bring his head down. And after a few days of teaching him to nod properly, I am so happy that he finally gets it!! He is using his neck and head now, not rocking his body, nor using his hands anymore! Even though it still looks a little bit stiff and needs more training, hey, I am so proud of my boy!! And well, I was happy yesterday because he nods in the proper manner a couple of times...and like I said, his nods were simply BEAUTIFUL..

Here's a video of us getting him to nod properly... And as you can see, for Rayyan, one of the strongest motivators is FRENCH FRIES! We did not give him the fries till he nodded in the proper manner. And if you are wondering why he was rubbing his eyes, he was actually very sleepy already!

And apart from the nodding, another reason I was happy yesterday was due to Rayyan's efforts to communicate with us and tell us his needs and wants....

I have noticed that these couple of days, Rayyan kept taking the sun block. At first, I thought that he simply liked the tube packaging. And again today, he took my hand, dragged me to his bedroom and took the sun block again. Again, I thought he simply liked the tube. Then at night, while my hubby and I accompanied him in his bedroom, he went to his chest of drawers, took out his swimming gear and passed it to us! Then it finally dawned on me that he actually wanted to go SWIMMING!!!!

Even though he still can't talk, I am so happy that he tried ways and means to tell us what he wanted. He did not simply throw a tantrum. When we didn't understand what he wanted when he gave us the sunblock, he really took the effort to search for his swimming gear! That, to me, is really very clever of him and I am very proud of these achievements. It may seem little to others but so, so much to me! I am so, so proud of you little one! And yes, we are so going swimming in a few hours time!

Thank you, thank you God...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bounce & Hop

Rayyan's occupational therapist said that Rayyan needs to be on the move!! He needs to hop and run around because after he hops or runs around, he will actually be more focused. We were told to get a gym ball and let him jump on the ball or let him roll on the ball. Since Rayyan loves to jump, we also try to make his jumping more meaningful by setting up 'obstacles' that he can jump on. Nowadays we try our best to occupy his time with more meaningful activities to curb his stimming.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sensory Integration

I was walking around Vivo when I spotted a shop selling stuffs that I think are great for sensory integration. Some of the stuffs I bought...

Rayyan loves painting so bought brushes, sponges and paint for him. Art therapy ;)

Pretty cool sandbox. Great activity to stimulate his senses.

For fine motor skills. Rayyan is pretty good at stringing beads now. Bought this for additional practice. Anyway, these are pretty cute!

Occupational Therapy

I remember the advice of a dear friend to take care of my health because our boys need us and we can't afford to be ill. That is very true actually. My hubby and I must take care of our health so that we are healthy and not be a burden to others. Furthermore, if we are healthy, we can better take care of our Rayyan. With that in mind, I went for a jog this morning (been a long, long time since I exercised!). I felt very good indeed after the jog and I am more determined now to take care of my diet and exercise regularly :)

Anyway, as I was jogging I thought about the conversation I had with Rayyan's occupational therapist last week. Actually, all this while, I thought that speech therapy is more important for Rayyan. Since he can't talk, wouldn't speech therapy be more useful? Furthermore, I have always thought that occupational therapy is about motor skills, about being more active, about jumping and going through different obstacles. And I thought that since Rayyan is already very active, occupational therapy is not so important for him... but boy, was I wrong! I learnt that occupational therapy is so much more...

An occupational therapist works with clients to help them achieve fulfilling and satisfying lives through the use of various interventions and purposeful activities. They work to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent disability or restore the highest possible level of independence. In other words, these therapists help people to improve their abilities to perform tasks in their daily living or working environment. The therapists not only help to improve motor functions but also reasoning skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, coordination, sequencing, etc.

In occupational therapy, sensory integration is very important. Sensory integration is actually a neurological process that organises sensation from one's own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment. The seven sensory domains include:

1) Tactile System
2) Proprioception System
3) Vestibular System
4) Olfactory System
5) Gustatory System
6) Vision System
7) Auditory System

I shall not go into details each of the domain but each one is important. Most ASD kids need sensory integration to improve on their skills and behaviour. For example, Rayyan is sensitive to certain touch, he can't stand it when he has some unfamiliar texture on his foot. He will actually throw his shoe off if there's anything on his foot and will not move till we clean both the shoe and his foot. He doesn't like to walk on grass too.

When it comes to auditory, he is sensitive to certain music. Actually, till now, we can't figure out what kind of music he doesn't like because he may like this particular song one day and detest it the next day! He will actually close his ears and cry when certain songs are played. Apart from that, we are still very concerned with his stimmings. He still jumps and flaps his arms a lot. He will also place his fingers near his face and move them close to his face.

In addition, he also likes to touch ears. Luckily he doesn't touch strangers' ears but likes to touch our ears, grinding his teeth at the same time. That is another area of concern, he likes to grind his teeth. And when it comes to learning and meaningful play, he is usually not focused and has very short attention span. He will take a toy, play with it for a few seconds and move on to another one!

But I have learnt that all this can be helped with sensory integration. To put it simply, sensory integration is like the foundation. Once we work on the seven domains and he is strong in all seven domains, the rest will automatically improve. We will see less stimming, he will be more focused and ultimately become a better learner and a more independent individual.

So voila! Occupational therapy (focusing on sensory integration) is indeed very important. I am appalled at my lack of knowledge in this. I should have tried my best to find out more earlier or do more reading in this area. I have been told before to work on his sensory deficiency like making him touch different textures but I didn't know the reason for doing so and wasn't too keen in doing those activities.

But better late than never! Now, I will try my best to do more activities that will improve on those seven domains. Hopefully we will see more improvement in our boy after doing more sensory integration activities.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Some ASD kids are sensitive to touch... they don't like to be held or hugged or kissed.. But I am just so glad that Rayyan is the opposite... he simply loves to be hugged and kissed.. And I am really happy too that nowadays, he likes it when I tease and tickle him. These are the moments that I really, really enjoy and treasure...

So thank you God for giving me the opportunity to touch and hug and kiss my boy... I would be devastated if I wouldn't be able do all these things...

I love you so, so much Rayyan...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Misfortune is a Blessing??

I was watching the Chinese serials when I heard this remark being made... that sometimes misfortune is a blessing... One of the actresses was saying that before her mother met with an accident, she was a hot-tempered woman and very unhappy with her life.. But after an accident struck and she lost her memory and became simple-minded, she became a much happier person.

This remark struck me whenever I recall what happened last week. Last week, I brought Rayyan to the library. Rayyan loves to go to the library. He loves to flip through books and gets excited whenever we bring him to the library. And when he gets excited, he will babble loudly, oblivious to the people around him. We will then put our finger to our lips and tell him to be quiet. He will then imitate us. He will place his finger on his lips too but within seconds, he will start babbling again! When he gets out of control and is too noisy, I will actually bring him to a corner or out of the library as I do not want to disturb other patrons there but other than that, I will actually let him be... I mean, he deserves to go to the library right??

So last week, we were at the library. I asked my helper to sit with him while I walk around and choose some good books for him. As I was walking, I could hear him babbling loudly. My helper will remind him to be quiet and he will be quiet for a while before babbling again. There were not many people at the library and the situation was pretty much in control so I let it be. I took a peek once in a while and noticed a girl who kept staring at him. Then I heard two librarians making a remark that the boy who is babbling loudly is already pretty big but still can't talk... Shouldn't he be in school and receive some form of education so that he will learn to talk?

So obviously they were talking about my son and I couldn't help but eavesdrop on their conversation. I was surprised that I didn't get mad and tell them off. I guess that this must be because I looked at my son then and noticed how happy he was. He didn't know people are looking at him, he didn't understand all these negative remarks about him. He was just his usual happy self, happy in his world.

Hubby was surprised too when I told him of this incident. He also asked me why I didn't tell them off. I answered simply, do I have to tell everyone who talk about him off? Do I have to get agitated at every remark made about him? I come to realise that this is just human nature... we make assumptions... Maybe I would have made the same remark if nothing had happened to my boy. What happened to my boy has indeed made me realise that there is an underlying reason for everything, that I shouldn't make assumptions too easily. I pray to God that those two librarians and others will come to realise this too one day.

So I guess misfortune is indeed a blessing at times. I am somehow glad that my son doesn't realise all these ignorant remarks made about him, that he doesn't understand... I am somehow glad that he is in his own happy world, sheltered from this world where people can get pretty insensitive and cruel. His happiness is all that matters. And as long as I am alive, I will do my utmost best to make him happy..

Monday, July 5, 2010

Interview with Ma Ma Bao Bei

Like I mentioned before, I don't mind telling others about Rayyan and about autism, especially those who want to know and understand autism better. With that in mind, I didn't really hesitate when I received an email from a writer for Motherhood Magazine (Chinese version) who wanted to write an article about autism. Her name is Si Min and she found my blog through one of the forum groups and wanted to interview me.

So I went ahead with the interview. Si Min also wanted to take our photograph and I did discuss this with my hubby beforehand. Do we want our photograph to be flashed in the magazine? Are we ready? Hubby replied with a confident, why not??? There's nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, our son is autistic but we are not ashamed of him, never! So we decided to have our photograph taken too. And I am glad we had that picture taken because Rayyan looked perfect in the picture. He gave his sweetest smile and was looking directly at the camera!! And that was the very first shot taken by Si Min!

As for the interview, it went pretty well. I know that many other parents have done so much more for their children and know so much more about autism but we basically shared our personal experiences with her. The article was published in the May issue of Ma Ma Bao Bei. We want to thank Si Min for writing the article so that more people know about autism. Thanks Si Min!

Here's the cover of the magazine...

And a peek at the article..

I have the article in PDF format so email me if you want to read it ya..

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More word-matching exercises

I just bought this word-matching puzzle for Rayyan from Toys R Us. Decided to test him on the spot. Out of the 26 puzzles (A-Z), he wasn't sure about 2 or 3 but he knows the rest! In fact, he was very fast, no hesitation at all! His word bank has definitely increased and he recognises so many words now. Goooooo Rayyan!!! Now, if only he will verbalise them....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Open Sesame!

After practising with the tools from AAS, it's time to put the skill to test. Rayyan can now unscrew and open containers! Yippeeee!