Ryan’s Autism Journey – How To Be The Miracle!

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In support of Autism Awareness Month, I want to share with all of you – Ryan’s Autism Journey, and how your child can be the miracle too!

Updated @ 2024-04-02 : Updated for World Autism Awareness Day 2024
Originally posted @ 2021-04-30

 

Ryan’s Autism Journey : Be The Miracle!

It’s been a dozen since my son, Ryan, was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), just 3 months shy of his second birthday.

Today, he’s like any other kid his age. He goes to a normal school, keeps up with his studies, and can interact with people pretty normally.

Take a look at how Ryan went from being completely non-verbal, with poor motor skills and no eye contact, to the boy he is today.

Look at how far he has come along in the last 10 years. Your child too can become your miracle!

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Ryan’s Autism Journey : How He Became Our Miracle!

I’m sorry, but your child exhibits behaviours consistent with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

That is something no parent ever wants to hear. That is something no parent deserves to hear. But it is what it is. It would explain his inability to speak or stay still, his lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviours, screaming fits at night (night terrors), and more.

But no one ever accepts it when they hear it for the first time, the second time, or even the third time. We always hold out hope that it must be something else. Maybe he’s just slower than the other kids. Maybe he’s just cranky. No one wants to hear the dreaded A word.

Acceptance

IMHO, acceptance was KEY to our success. It was the first step we took into the dark tunnel, and out the other end.

Over the years, many people have confided in me how their friends or relatives refused to acknowledge the diagnosis, thus preventing them from moving to the next stage – helping the child.

If it helps, ignore the label. The diagnosis really does not matter. All you need to know is that your child is missing key milestones, and he/she needs help. That is all that matters.

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Ryan Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!
How can we not fight for Ryan???

Every Day Counts

Everyone goes through the stages of grief when you get the diagnosis. But time is of essence. Every day counts. So I decided right away to speed right through to acceptance, and get right down to work.

That meant reading up on the latest studies and treatments, and getting urgent referrals to the best doctors and therapists in the area.

It may be somewhat easier for me, because I already underwent a similar baptism of fire when my wife had two strokes just 1.5 years earlier. So I would understand if you may have trouble moving past this stage.

If I may offer a personal suggestion, try focusing on the fact that your child urgently needs your help, and every day counts.

Neuroplasticity

It soon became clear that the key was THERAPY, and the earlier he started, the better; because young brains are especially “plastic”.

Neuroplasticity – the ability of our brains to “rewire” itself – is how stroke patients regain function through therapy, and it’s the same reason why therapy works well in children with ASD.

The key is to start therapy as early as possible, to take advantage of the developing brain of young children, which is highly plastic.

You don’t even have to wait for a diagnosis. As our developmental paediatrician, Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan, once told me – as long as a child has developmental issues, therapy should begin.

Recommended : Autism + Special Needs Q&A With Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan

Autism + Special Needs Q&A With Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan
The writer with Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan

Therapy, Therapy, Therapy

We put Ryan on occupational therapy with Madam Teo Lee Fun to work on his sensory and behavioural issues, as well as his fine and gross motor skills.

We also put Ryan on speech therapy with Dr. Cindy Lian, to help him learn to speak, and later, to improve his pronunciation.

Finally, we managed to get a slot in an Early Intervention Programme – Bridges EIP – for two-hour sessions, twice a week.

EIP is an incredibly useful programme, where special needs kids are taught cognitive skills at the table for about 30 minutes, followed by 15-20 minutes of gross motor activities. Then they learn to eat by themselves, and interact with other children during snack time. After that, they usually have some kind of art and craft activity, and end with singing.

Many thanks to great teachers like Jeremy Yong, Rachel and Lois Fu!

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Ryan Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!

Save Money By Learning + Repeating At Home

Therapy sessions are not cheap, and we had a tough time coping financially with the costs. I’m sure many parents felt the same way too.

So a great way to save money and improve your child’s chances is to actually attend every therapy session yourself, and learn how to perform those therapies yourself. That way, you can cut down on the number of therapy sessions, without jeopardising your child’s therapy. Simply repeat the therapies at home, as often as you can.

Some parents have told me how some therapists refuse to let them join therapy sessions. If that is the case, then you should choose a different therapist. The therapists we worked with all insist that we join the sessions so we can learn and repeat at home.

Therapy Is Brain Exercise

Learning therapies and repeating at home isn’t just about cost. Therapy is literally brain exercise. The more you exercise, the better you get. So please understand this – weekly therapy sessions alone are NOT ENOUGH.

We not only made sure Ryan did not skip any therapy sessions, we also made sure we attended every session ourselves, to learn the therapies, and repeating them at homeThe key is to repeat, repeat, repeat at home.

Even if you are rich enough to afford daily sessions, that still amounts to just a few hours a week. It cannot beat parents teaching their kids at home too.

No matter how often you send your child for therapy, please repeat, repeat, repeat the therapies at home as often as you can!

Recommended : 2024 – 2025 Malaysia School Term + Holiday Calendar!

Ryan Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!

Don’t Give Up

Looking back at my records, Ryan did not improve much for quite some time – at least 1.5 years. That is really a long time to stick with something with little to show for.

But I knew that therapies are literally the only proven treatment for ASD. So I never once considered stopping his therapies, even as I watched other parents give up to try alternative therapies.

As expensive in money and time as they were – my wife and I attended all of them, and we repeated the therapies at home. We slogged on, even when Ryan did not seem to be making progress at all.

Then suddenly, Ryan started to show improvements, and by golly, when that happened, it just kept snowballing! In just 1.5 years, he went from speaking only a few words and barely able to hold a ball, to being able to converse normally and he even learned the waveboard by himself in just two weeks!

He improved so much, we ended up sending him to a Chinese school – to keep pushing the envelope. Ryan is now in a public school, where he even won an award for being the most improved student in his class!

Three years after I first wrote this story, Ryan is now a prefect in his secondary school, and loves playing badminton. He doesn’t yet know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he wants to go to a university when he figures that out!

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Ryan's Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!

Don’t Chase After Miracles!

If there is any advice we can give to parents with children on the spectrum, it is this – please don’t fall for what’s easy and what’s miraculous.

Biomedical treatments that promise quick solutions, or supplements that promise a fast cure – they are all enticing, I’m sure. But don’t listen to what they have to sell.

Find out what WORKS, and seek advice from those who have actually SUCCEEDED. Don’t chase after miracles. BE THE MIRACLE!

No Special Treatment

This is not part of therapy, it’s just common sense. Don’t pamper or coddle your child, or treat him/her differently from the other siblings.

We made the conscious choice of making sure Ryan is treated no differently from his siblings. Not only is he FULLY VACCINATED, he has NO SPECIAL DIET / SUPPLEMENTS, and certainly NO PASSES for bad behaviour.

We are not going to be here forever. If we want him to be fully independent as an adult, he has to learn to eat, drink and behave like everyone else.

Recommended : Did New Study Show Pfizer mRNA Vaccine Causes Autism?!

Ryan's Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!

 

Ryan’s Autism Journey : Why It’s Important To Speak Up

We may be out of the dark tunnel, but we are not out of the woods yet. Even today, we are still working with Ryan on his social skills. But it is truly amazing how far we have come in the last 12 years.

I spent hours creating the video and writing this article, because it is important for those who have succeeded to lend a hand, and help those who are struggling with the enormity of the task at hand.

I hope Ryan’s journey will inspire all of you to persevere and trust in the evidence, and trust in the science.

Ryan did it, and so can your child.

All we ask is that when you succeed, you too will lend a helping hand to other parents, and be a voice for other children on the spectrum.

Thank you!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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