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Ryan's Autism Journey - Be The Miracle!

Ryan’s Autism Journey – Be The Miracle!

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 @ 2021-05-05 : Added credit to the great therapists who helped Ryan, and more of my thoughts.

Originally posted @ 2021-04-30


Ryan’s Autism Journey : Be The Miracle!

It’s been a full decade 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!


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), etc.


IMHO, acceptance was KEY to our success.

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

If it helps, ignore the label. The diagnosis really doesn’t matter.

All you need to know is that your child is missing key milestones, and he/she needs help. That is all that matters.

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.

How can we not fight for Ryan???


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 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

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.

This is an incredibly useful programme, where special need 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!

Therapy Is Brain Exercise

Therapy is literally brain exercise. The harder you exercise, the better you get.

The weekly therapy sessions alone are NOT ENOUGH.

We not only made sure we do not skip therapy sessions, we made sure we attended every session ourselves.

Why? So that we can learn to perform the same therapies, and repeat them at home. The 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.

Don’t Give Up

Looking back at my records now, it looks like Ryan did not improve much for quite some time – at least 1.5 years.

But I never considered stopping his therapies, even as I watched other parents give up to try alternative treatments.

As expensive in money and time as they are – I attended most of them, and we repeated the therapies at home – I understood that therapies are literally the only proven treatment for ASD.

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 a few words with awkward motor skills, to normal speech and mastering the waveboard in just two weeks!

He improved so much, we ended up sending him to a Chinese school – to keep pushing the envelope.

He is now in a public school, where he even won an award for being the most improved student in his class!

Don’t Chase After Miracles!

To parents with children on the spectrum, 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 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.


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

While we are still working with him on his social skills, it truly is amazing how far we have come in the last ten 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 to understand ASD, much less cope 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, trust in the science.

He 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 a voice for other children on the spectrum.

Thank you!


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Recommended Reading

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

In support of Autism Awareness Month, we are sharing this exclusive Q&A session on autism and special needs with Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan!

May her knowledge and insight continue to help and inspire parents of children on the ASD spectrum, or with special needs!


Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan : Who Is She?

Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan is a Consultant Developmental Paediatrician at ParkCity Medical Centre and the Baby & Beyond Child Specialist Clinic.

She specialises in diagnosing and treating children with autism, ADHD, ADD, behavioural problems, cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders.

Her waiting list is as long as her professional credentials – MBBS HONS (UK), M MED Sc (Leeds, UK), MRCP (UK), MRCPCH (UK).

We were very fortunate to be able to invite her to a Q&A session with the parents of autistic and special needs children at the Bridges EIP Centre on the 5th of September 2015.

Sadly, we could not accommodate more parents for this talk. That’s why we recorded the entire session so that parents who could not make it for the event can benefit as well.

Dr. Rajini covered many topics, so we will not just provide you with the full video of the session. We have also prepared 18 smaller video clips that are specific to certain topics.


Autism + Special Needs Q&A with Dr. Rajini (Full)

For those who want to view the Autism And Special Needs Q&A session in its entirety, here is the full video. It is about 1 hour and 15 minutes long.


Autism + Special Needs with Dr. Rajini (Specific Topics)

Part 1 : Latest Treatments For Autism

Part 2 : Does ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) Work?

Part 3 : Should A Child Start ABA?

Part 4 : Occupational & Speech Therapies

Part 5 : iPad & YouTube As Therapy

Part 6 : Dealing With Giggling / Laughing Episodes

Part 7 : Don’t Focus On The Hours Spent On Therapy

Part 8 : Do Enrichment Classes Help?

Part 9 : Sensory Integration & Sibling Issues

Part 10 : More Sibling Issues

Part 11 : Handling Inappropriate Behaviour

Part 12 : Handling Temper Tantrums

Part 13 : Shopping Mall Woes

Part 14 : Dealing With Inferiority Complex

Part 15 : Dealing With Difficult Behaviour

Part 16 : Biomedical, Neurofeedback, Chlorine Dioxide & Diets

Part 17 : Vaccines For Children With Autism / Special Needs

Part 18 : Prognosis For Kids With Autism


Recommended Reading

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If you like our work, you can help support us by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donating to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!

SpecialEffect – Helping Disabled Kids Have Fun With Games!

In the middle of Ian Livingstone’s talk on the game industry, he shared a video that brought tears to many eyes in the hall. The video showcased the amazing work that a charity called SpecialEffect has accomplished – enabling children with severe disabilities to play computer games like the rest of us!

Warning : The video is emotionally charged, and very addictive. Just be sure prepare some tissues first, because someone’s always cutting those damn onions when the video is playing!

Ian Livingstone CBE is an ambassador for SpecialEffect, and he is visibly proud of the work they have done. It’s obvious to see why. Even I keep playing the video over and over again just to see the joy in their faces!

Their unbridled joy is why I’m writing this special. More children (and adults) with disabilities deserve to enjoy games as well!


The SpecialEffect Mission

SpecialEffect is a UK-based charity that focuses on enabling children (and even adults) with severe disabilities to enjoy computer games. Their team of game technologists and occupational therapists customise equipment to help children and adults with different disabilities access the computer games that they want to play.

But it is not just for the entertainment value. Playing computer games allow them to reconnect with the world, and feel a greater sense of inclusion that will rebuild their confidence. It will also help kickstart or enhance their rehabilitation.


Some Of Those They Have Helped


What Can You Do?

If you are in the United Kingdom, you can help SpecialEffect by donating your services or your money.

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If you are outside the United Kingdom, I’m highlighting their work so that you may be inspired to start similar programs in your country, state or district.

Their success in using games to improve the lives of people with severe disabilities may also inspire therapists to consider using them as therapeutic tools.

While SpecialEffect does not provide their free services outside of the United Kingdom, they can offer advice to any person or organisation who are interested in emulating the work they have done. You can call them at 01608-810055 or email them at info@specialeffect.org.uk.


Support Tech ARP!

If you like our work, you can help support our work by visiting our sponsors, participate in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donate to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!