When I wrote this post "How To Be Happy According To My Autistic Son, Jonathan, I received a lot of encouraging comments. These comments show the kindness and compassion that they had for the tough and tiring journey that I had with my autistic son.
It is indeed a tough, nerve-wracking, and exhausting journey not only for me but for parents of disabled children. Jonathan had late onset of autism. It was heartbreaking for me and my wife Roselind to see Jonathan who was a normal child until the age of 5 losing his cognitive skills and speech. Through all the hardship, struggles, and turmoil, Roselind and I managed to turn the situation around. Together we founded the Sarawak Autistic Association with 2 other parents. The efforts and hard work that we put in had bear fruits and today, the Association which has been renamed the Kuching Autistic Association has its own buildings and gives therapies to about 100 autistic individuals. The Association also operates the Autism Art Gallery which sells works of art produced by autistic individuals. There is also a garden where the autistic students grow vegetables and plants. The Association has done a lot to improve the lives of those with autism.
When I reflect back on my journey, what pulled me through and really help me to get over my struggles was my optimism and my positive outlook on life. My mantra is "Positive Thoughts, Positive Actions".
There are a lot of people who say that positive thoughts and positive thinking do not work. In a way, they are right. Positive thoughts do not work if they do not lead to positive actions. Thoughts need to be transformed into action if you want to achieve anything in life. No amount of thinking and wishing will get you the things that you want.
If positive thinking without positive actions leads to nowhere, why is positive thinking important in the first place? It is positive thinking that enables us to see the silver lining in the dark clouds. When we first discovered that Jonathan was autistic and that autism is life long disability, we felt completely hopeless. We felt that there was nothing that we can do as there is no cure for autism. We felt that what was happening to us was beyond our capabilities and that we were powerless and alone. We do not have the knowledge and skills to deal with this. At that point in time, services for autists were non-existence and awareness about autism was practically zero. We looked around for help but could not find anyone who can help us.
That dark period of my life lasted for around 2 years. It is through the power of positive thinking that I was able to reframe the whole situation. We came to the realization that Roselind and I are at that point in time young, educated and resourceful. No doubt, there is no cure for autism but there are a lot of things that we can do to improve Jonathan's life. It is this shift in thinking, the positive thoughts that empower both Roselind and me. By framing the situation positively, Roselind and I are able to see more clearly what actions we can take to improve the situation.
Finally, in order to achieve the outcome that we desire, we need to take positive actions. Knowledge and skills by themselves are insufficient if we do not take action. There are so many examples in my life where I know what to do but because of my lack of motivation, did not take any action. A lot of people say that they want to improve their life situation. But they are not willing to put in the time and effort to make the necessary changes in their life. At the end of the day, their life will not improve because no action has been taken. If you look at the lives of successful people, you can see the sacrifices and hard work that they have put in to achieve what they want.
My mantra, "Positive Thoughts, Positive Actions" has served me well in my career. It is due to positive outlook that I am able to rise through the ranks of the Sarawak Civil Service to retire as the Resident of Sibu.
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Lessons From My Autistic Son
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