“You should never see them as a burden, because when you do, it will be stressful for you. I’ve been through it and saw him as something I didn’t want to have. As difficult as it is to admit to you, that was how I felt. I used to ask God, ‘Why me?’ But with acceptance, you instantly treat your child differently. If you are in denial, you cannot treat them as how they should be treated, and in a way that they’re able to understand. You can’t force something upon them and then get upset when they overreact. Parents have to learn to treat their children according to their individual behaviour or personality within the spectrum,” shares Adli, who’s holding back tears.
He tells me some of the memories he still holds on to with regret, and as shocking as it sounds to me, it’s clear that those dark days are over. From it a spark has been lit, one which is inspiring many other parents of autistic children to speak up and share their plight – not to ask for sympathy, but for compassion.
“My wife is patient and fast to accept. I, on the other hand, am result-driven. Nowadays, as I sit alone with Luqman, I often ask for his forgiveness. I guess I will never truly know if he forgives me or not,” he confides in me.
For a Brighter Future
Regardless, Adli is doing good work with the Autism Café Project, which aims to give autistic children a platform to gain skills and also have a career. Through it, he is paving a path of independence for young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
When I ask about the one thing he hopes others will come to understand about autism, Adli hones in on one key element we all take for granted. “I can still remember one incident that happened in my home. A lady friend came over to the house and when she found out my son was autistic, she adjusted her seat so she would be further away from Luqman. I was so upset, I couldn’t deal with the situation and just left. Awareness isn’t just about understanding the disorder, but also in educating society that autism isn’t a contagious illness. It’s teaching society to be understanding, rather than condescending, when faced with children who have autism. Society has to be supportive. We, parents, need their support,” Adli expresses earnestly.
Recently, I’ve started following another family with an autistic teen. Known as @adamautismfamily on Instagram, their insights have taught me how much patience parents of children with autism must have, to be able to handle the daily trials and keep calm despite it all. On some days, you watch this young man, Adam, lean and smile at his parents with so much love. And on other days, you watch heartbreaking clips of him having an uncontrollable meltdown – and needing both parents to comfort him without them getting worked up as well.