“We like to think that Shafie came as a gift to us.”

For Mdm Fatimah, raising Shafie was not a walk in the park, but it was not bleak either. “We like to think that Shafie came as a gift to us,” said the mother of two daughters and Shafie.

When Shafie was two years old, Mdm Fatimah noticed that he seemed to be playing alone. There was a lack of interest in reciprocity, and his fascination with spinning wheels was worrying. She decided to bring him to a specialist, and that was when she learnt that Shafie has Autism. Bracing herself, Mdm Fatimah resolved to dedicate a lifetime of love, care, and support for this special child of hers.

“I never give up. I just kept talking to him,” said Mdm Fatimah. Even if it was a seemingly continuous monologue with herself, Mdm Fatimah was unfazed by the absence of response. She continued to speak to him about their everyday life, bringing him out to play with his cousins and friends.

Labouring in murkiness with no end in sight that he would respond, Mdm Fatimah trudged on for more than a year. One day, Shafie responded. He responded a word. Gradually, he learned to speak and express his feelings in his own ways.

Raising a kid with special needs is not a solitary journey. There needs to be help and support along the way. That was where Mdm Fatimah roped in her two elder daughters and her extended family for support in raising Shafie.

“I’m very thankful to have the support of my friends and family. Whenever I bring Shafie over to my siblings’ house for a gathering, they would engage him and encourage him to play with his cousins. Slowly, he began to play with his cousins and sisters. Now, he would even dance with his sisters at home!” Mdm Fatimah quipped.

“To other parents and caregivers, I would like to tell them to not give up. Work with the teachers, friends and family around you. Together, your child will blossom,” Mdm Fatimah said.