He ain't heavy, he's my son

2015 marks the beginning of Kindergarten two for our Big Brother, he also started EIPIC (Early Intervention Program for Infants and Children) at one of the most experienced Autism Centre in Singapore. It had been tough for us because every week day is filled up, we no longer have the luxury of outings like how I used to bring my children out in the afternoons after school to explore, neither do we have stay at home rest days too.

The first week of his usual mainstream school, I had to follow Big Brother into his class, carrying Little Brother in as well. We were able to leave the class 5 to 10 minutes later, when Big Brother was settled down. 

This week, however, had been physically, emotionally and mentally tough! Big Brother cried almost every day. On one of the days, he was crying very badly and told his teacher that he thought his mother is caught in a fire and he would like to go out to find his mother to save her.

Today, the moment he woke, he had been shouting and crying, refusing to go to school. He said that he will cry in school, he is scare of going to school. But he just can't tell me exactly why he doesn't want to go to school or what he is scared of. Because of his struggling and unstable emotion, I passed the Little Brother to the hubby and carried the 19+kg Big Brother instead. He struggled, shouted and cried as we left the house, in the elevator, on the way to the carpark and going up the car. I talked to him nicely, hugged him really tight to comfort him, explained to him, promised him all the good things he loved, scolded him and in end screamed at him. Hubby slammed the car door and he punched the car a few times too.

Initially, I had requested for hubby to follow us to the school so its easier for me as I don't need to manage both the children. But seeing how affected hubby was, I decided to drop hubby off at the MRT first as I do not know how long Big Brother will drag entering his class today. We are already a single income family so I have to be careful not to let hubby become too affected by our child and allow the stress to overflow into his work. We need that income, but.... Seriously, I am very stressed myself, how should I cope??

When we reached the school, Big Brother refused to come down the car. He kept shouting to go back home. I strapped the Little Brother onto me in the carrier and said goodbye to Big Brother, if he is still not coming down the car. He came down finally, but not without crying and saying i do not understand him. I asked him to carry his own backpack, but he refused and continued his tantrums so I told him since he doesn't want it, i threw his bag onto the floor. He was very angry. He picked up his bag and swung it at me wildly, hitting me repeatedly until I got very angry, I slapped him across his face, just like that. He was crying even more, I also felt like crying. I felt something within us is breaking apart.

Why does my boy keep saying he is scare of going to school? He is able to say scare, but he is not able to tell me why. We ding dong outside the class for a very long time, talking to him, waiting for him to be ready etc, then we approached the admin office to report late. The admin officer accompanied us to his class, but along the way he kept on saying he is very scare, kept struggling from moving forward. I did thought of bringing him home, but what good does it do to him? I accompanied him into the class too. After a while, the teacher told me to leave as my presence doesn't seem to do him any benefit too. He cried. And cried and cried. I wandered around and went back to the classroom door to listen and he was still crying... What can I do? So I left, waiting to see if the teacher will call me to come back.

Almost everyone doesn't believe us when we said our son has mild autism. He looked and behaved so normally. So we stopped telling people. Being an October baby, he only recently turned five. He is still unable to read yet. Though I felt very down today, but I reminded myself to 随缘,随便 and 随机应变. We are not in a hurry, my son has his own lifetime to learn and to cope. I shouldn't keep worrying about things before they happened. I do not know what will happen next year, things do not always go smoothly for everyone and.... I am very thankful everyone of us is still alive, healthy and happy. What more can I ask for?

It's only the beginning, things will work out and we all will be fine. ;)

P/S: I welcome all encouragements and valuable sharing that can add value or improve our situations now, but can I ask politely that please do not judge? For I am already judging myself every day and beating myself up for many things. I may not be the best mom, but I tried my best. I didn't write down everything I did, but I have been doing many things for my boy every day, every time. The purpose of writing this entry is to release some pent up stress, noting down the ups and downs in our journey with our boy, so that in future when i look back, I can see how far we have evolved. 

I also hope to give normal people and families, a glimpse of what life with an ASD is like. The next time you see a kid behaving really badly in public. Do not judge, do not take out your phone and start recording, do not post it to social media.. you really don't know anything about them. 


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  2. I can understand your predicament because I was having a hard time with my boy for the pass 2 years with his high intense anger outburst or some will say "he's got anger management issues". Like Big Brother, he couldn't tell me what is making him so upset so angry so unhappy when he is in school. My hubs also felt the same angst as yours till he screamed at my son to "Stop giving me problems or stress!" That's where I draw the line too, I don't tell him 100% of things that happened but seek help from teachers and friends. I was lucky that he has great teachers & counselors in school and student care centre.

    I am not familiar with autism so can't advise you much, but through my experience, I find that my son opens up to the school counselor and will tell her things when he will not tell me. Perhaps you can seek another close friend or relative or some one that Big Brother trust most or/and feels comfortable to talk so that that person can help you find out the reason for him being "scared to go to school?"

    On the other hands, continue to concentrate on the good & positive things, vent and rant if you feel frustrated to let out all negative thoughts so that your mind and body is clear and empty to welcome positive vibes. Like you said "It's only the beginning, things will work out and we all will be fine", believe in that whole heartedly and it will eventually materialize.

    1. Thank you Jen for sharing your experience with me!

      I am sure every parent has theses moments like I did, no one is born perfect so we just flow along whatever it comes.

      I am waiting for the day my boy blossoms. So before that happen, I will suck whatever positive energy I can find!

    2. Don't worry the day will come. Being autistic or not I believe children are sensitive and can feel the vibes and energy from adults, especially their main care giver. Perhaps he picked up frustrations or sad or tiredness from you and feels uncomfortable (thus the reaction towards school).

      Try sqeezing out some time during the day/week to do what you used to do with the kids, doesn't need to take a long time, 15 mind may be enough. A leisure casual visit to the neighbourhood park or somewhere thst they can take time to observe things at their pace will probably help. Once my son had a great time chasing the small moths and butterflies at the grass patch outside his art school, even though its under hot sun ! 15mins only, i have a sweaty but happy boy who may be late for class but both of us felt great!

      Hope my suggestions will help you in certain ways :) Hang in there!

  3. Big hugs to you, Ting. I pray that the journey will get smoother as time passes.

  4. Big hugs Ting. It will hopefully be a passing phase. Keep your positive thoughts with you, i think that is very hard but crucial. Jia you and catch up to rant soon okay!

  5. Big big hugs. I can imagine how tough that might be, especially when you have to divide your attention between the two kids. I don't know if it works, but I ask questions non stop when my kid can't tell me exactly why he doesn't want to do something until I hit the answer. And I ask everything that I can think of. Or maybe you can use drawing to help. He likes to draw and ask him to draw why he doesn't want to go to school?
    He might be frustrated with himself for not being able to articulate to you and seeing you and daddy both being angry may add to his stress as well. I know it going to be very very hard, but maybe try to breathe and talk to him normally as per your usual. Going to school is a big change, having mummy shouting and beating him at the same time might be more than he can bear with all the changes happening at the same time. Take it slow on yourself too, if you feel you didn't do well enough, then think how you can do it better the next day. I have heard of kids that cries for months when they go school, so it is really normal for him to feel as such too.

    Take each day at one time and you know that you can only improve in the next day. If you need a break, let's have kopi at our neighbourhood mall if you want to destress! and remember to breathe! ((Hugs))

  6. Big brother may not be able to articulate the reason for his seemingly irrational fear but it could be due to the unfamiliarity of the new routines, new environment and new faces. Do give him more time to adjust. I think you did the right thing by not giving up in sending him to school daily. Keep encouraging him to take baby steps. Assure him that you and baby brother will be back to pick him before school ends. For yourself too, network with mommies with kids in the programme so you can have some form of good mutual support. Mommies must have very strong hearts, you may not think you are something but in many of our eyes, you are an inspiration. Jia You! When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!

  7. Hi Cen-Ling, you are such a strong mum! I admire your strength and your love for your children! Praying for you that big brother will adjust well in school very soon and that the peace of God will be upon your family! Sending lots of love! <3

  8. Hi Ting, I'm sorry my earlier comment hurt your feelings. I really did intend my suggestion of seeking therapy for some extra support as helpful and I'm sorry it didn't come across that way to you. Maybe there's a cultural difference at work here- therapy is common in my country and hitting a child, especially in public, is not done. I hope your day today is easier and am sincerely wishing you all the best with a difficult situation.

  9. Hi K, I read your earlier comment. I think let's not be too early to judge. We will never know how we will react under such pressure until we face it ourselves. It's not an easy journey and if you have been following Cen Lin's blog you would know she's an amazingly strong mom who has boundless love for her two boys. This is just one of the tough episodes she needs to get through with lots of support and love.

    Cen lin, hang in there yah? I know you are a tough mom! I'm sure the light at end of the tunnel is very near ahead. Big hugs! :)

  10. Big big hugz Ting! This could really happen to any child, when there is some changes to their routine, and the environment. Give him and give yourself, and the little brother, more time to settle in. Maybe promise him to fetch him earlier (if that's possible). Probably he won't be able to tell what's bothering him, so directly asking him might not help, need to think of the indirect way, like telling stories and see if he can relate to any of the story. Like Cherie suggested, since he loves to draw, give him a piece of paper, and ask him to draw what's happening is school etc.

    My son going P1 this year, and he is not happy with the student care. I keep on asking him and he couldn't (or doesn't want to) tell me what's bothering him, just repeating don't want to go to student care, and that annoys me lots also. Sometimes it's really not easy for a child to tell us exactly what it is. We just have to stay calm, stay positive and at the same time, work on plan B or C or D...... eventually something would work for him!

    All the best!

  11. Your post tugged at my heart... Each of us have our own struggles and temptations... I can feel your angst and frustration... having been through similar aggression stages from my 2 sons... Sharing a bit of my struggles. Hope that you will know you're not alone... Take care and take heart.


  12. Hello Ting,

    I feel the aching pain tugging your heart n I can imagine how stressful you are every morning. I have issues with my almost 6 years son. He has behaviour problems in school. I frequently getting calls from school complaining about him n I sent him for assessment for Adhd. They told me he is unlikely to be one but still his behaviour problem is still ongoing. I am like u, losing my cool at times,slapping him n screaming at him but not helpful at all. Have you tried the carrot n stick method? Promise him something he likes after class? Ipad? Visit Mcdonald aft sch? The rewards are just temp until he is able to associate good things with school. I guess since u mentioned he is just midly autistic, he can feel that his classmates are different than him n this confuses him n creates fear in going to school. Last but not least, I hope you find comfy in this but my son only recently learnt to read at 5.5 yrs ..n my friend daughter can't read at 6 until she went to phonic sch. If the situation is really bad, maybe you can consider withdrawing him n teaching him yourself? I believe many mildly autistic children can still do well in mainstream school under the guidance of the parents.


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