kenzo Gabriel Chan
There was a scream. Everyone outside the play area of McDonald's had stopped eating and peeked in to see what was the commotion. A little girl, not more than five held by her elder sister, was sobbing as they made their way out. Her grandfather rushed to her side, shocked and concerned for his little one.
I felt queasy yet i continued my litany of silent prayers, "Please not Kenzo...." It was shattered when a parent pointed out that a boy in blue was responsible for the girl's tears. She explained to the grandfather what had unfolded. In the haze of the explanation, it turned out that kenzo grabbed the girl's dress in attempt to get her to play.
Calmly, my husband got hold of our 4 year-old boy and made him apologize to the traumatized girl. I, on the other hand, stood still, still shocked from the incident. An acquaintance, who had been chatting with us, tries to reassure me that it's just all part of growing up. "They're just being naughty!" she said.
But for those of us in the know, this is no ordinary mischief - my angel has yet to fully recognized and understand social etiquette and emotions. Kenzo Gabriel Chan was diagnosed under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) just when the school year had started this year at 3 years and 7 months. It was a series of incidents in the classroom, which included trying to make his friends fall to the ground like dominoes that made his teachers, raised the red alert and urged us to diagnosed his hyperactive and aggressive behavior. Alarmed, we immediately brought him to the Philippines to see a specialist. After having assessed Kenzo through various test and information from us, the doctor told us that kenzo was developmentally delayed in his social and communications skills which were strong signs of ASD. It was also the reasons for his unconventional behavior in the classroom. However, he reassured us not to worry about the label and just concentrate on early intervention.
We came back to Brunei and immediatly sought help. We also started to learn more about the disorder by reading up on information and viewing videos from youtube. However, it took us almost 3 months before we could get any intervention from the Child Development Centre (CDC), starting with speech therapy.
Mohd Waqiuddin Husain
My brother, Mohd Waqiuddin Husain, was born on the 23rd December 1993, two years and one week apart from me. I am now twenty years old and he just turned eighteen years old. Known by the nickname ‘Abang’ and ‘Udin’ since his younger sisters and brother were born.
I learnt that my brother was diagnosed with Autism when I was 10 years old. That was also the year when SMARTER was formed. I had no idea how to deal with Autism nor did I actually understand what it meant at that time. All I knew was my brother was not like any other eight-year-olds, mainly the fact that he cannot talk. Aside from that, I was a rather oblivious child and did not actually questioned anything and only wen t with the flow. We were not very close as children, both of us in our own little worlds. I do remember though, back in SMARTER’s early days when the centre was just one room in Jigsaw Primary School, I would be accompanying Udin when I could, especially during the holidays. I started attending every conference held by SMARTER and it was then I began to really understand my brother’s condition.
It was what made me realize that yes, my brother is different and many people still do not know why. Trying to explain a condition such as Autism in simplified terms is impossible for me, especially when I want them to really grasp the meaning and implications rather than just nodding their heads to the rhythm. This was when I started introducing Autism and Udin to my friends. Every year during class speeches, I would always talk about Autism and my experiences. It was not out of laziness, in fact it was an effort to make sure at least one more person than before would understand it as new teachers and classmates come every year. I would have friends over at my house and Udin would come out and greet them.
My hope for the future is for him to live independently and I know none of this would be possible without SMARTER Brunei’s involvement. I would like to thank the therapists, volunteers and other involved members of SMARTER for being there for my brother and
help him through his development from a child to hopefully one day becoming an independent member of the society.
Muhd Rayyan Mustaqeem
Before we start, let me introduce myself and our family, I’m the father of Rayyan, Haji Mohammad Nizam Bin Haji Abdullah and my wife, Rayna Binti Haji Raub with our two lovely daughters Nur Nayla Alyaa and Nur Nayla Suhayla and one handsome son named Muhammad Rayyan Mustaqeem. My wife gave birth to Rayyan on 28th April 2011. That time, I’m very worried for my wife and at the same time very grateful to having a son (Alhamdullilalah). For the first year, we did not have any difficulties but my wife started to notice something different with Rayyan at the age of two. Every time we would call his name, he would not react; there was no communication, no interaction and no eye contact. He would also move around while having his meal and will not able stay long in one place. All this symptoms made my wife really concerned about him and thought of sending him for a medical checkup at hospital.
The word autism was not familiar in our family but my wife has watched a Rampai Pagi program before and there was Sir Malai in the TV. He has explained about Autism and my wife remembered it. So my wife and I have thought about it and together decided to seek help from the hospital. We managed to get an appointment, the doctor gave a diagnosis that Rayyan has characteristics of autism.
Shocked but we redha about this, maybe it was a test from Allah Subahana Wataala to us. The Hospital suggested for us to go to an Occupational and Speech therapy and eventually encouraged us to go register with Smarter Brunei.
A new chapter began with our lives. We had to tell our parents and other children about Rayyan’s condition. Every day brought a new adventure as we faced a lot of obstacles in this rough journey.
At this time, we knew that we must work together and support each other. We did a lot of research in the internet and asked some opinion from the experts in the medical field. In October 2014, Rayyan was enrolled in Smarter Brunei class in Kuala Belait. During the first two weeks, he was struggling hard to cope but because of the teachers’ patience and concern, he was able to cope well in the end. In Smarter, I was also able to learn and observe the proper techniques of teaching.
In 2015, we enrolled him into the Mainstream School. We explained to the school teacher about his condition and they agreed to accept him in a one-month trial which eventually continued to three months until he was extended to attend his class until the end of the school term 2015. Rayyan has improved a lot because of his continuous encouragement and exposure in the Mainstream and Smarter in which w are very blessed and grateful day by day. Most of all, we appreciate the cooperation of Smarter Brunei teachers, Doctors and people who have been involved in Rayyan’s life.