‘Rose Rose I love You’

©Kelvyn Yeang

I would like to introduce my ‘old’ homeboy Malaysian friend, Mr Kelvyn Yeang (yes, the one with the funky red hair in the video). I met Kelvyn way back in the fall of 2002 when I went back to Penang, Malaysia to spend a year there. I had enrolled into an art college, and Kelvyn was amongst the first few I befriended. He was friendly, approachable, funny and full of energy. He could have had his own stand-up comedy. But he did not have the funky red hair that he has today. I even found out he was my neighbour in the tall two-block apartment we were living in.

One evening, I woke up from a nap with a heavily bleeding ear. I forgot whether it was the left or right ear. I immediately became scared. I was alone in my apartment. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. And then I thought of Kelvyn. He was the closest person to contact as he was my neighbour. I didn’t know whether he was home, but I took the chance. So I called him on my mobile. I started crying and blurted out, “Help, I have a bleeding ear,” through heavy tears. Sounding concerned, Kelvyn told me he wasn’t home but to go straight to his place where his mother, sister and girlfriend (whom is now his wife) would help me. Without wasting another second, I hung up and rushed to his place. When I got there, the family tried to figure out what was causing the bleeding. In the end, they saw that an insect of some kind had crawled into my ear and bit me…before it died deep inside. Nice. The family was concerned, and so, they decided to take me to the hospital. We had just driven past the main gate of the apartment when we saw Kelvyn. Meanwhile at this point, everything was a blur to me. I was thinking of the worse. What if the doctor couldn’t get the insect out? What is I got infected and die? I only remember seeing Kelvyn looking at me through the rolled down window of the car I was in with worry on his face before driving off. At the hospital, the doctor managed to get the unknown insect out and got me treated. By this time, I felt like my normal self again. After that, I was taken to rest on a bed. Kelvyn then arrived unexpectedly at the hospital. The worried expression remained on his face. He then asked the family if he could speak to me privately. I was confused. That was when he asked if anyone had physically hurt me. I said no, stunned by his question. But I understood where he was getting at. I convinced him I wasn’t hurt by anyone. But the worried expression on his face remained. Kelvyn then asked if I wanted to call a family member, and so I asked him to call my uncle and aunt. When they arrived, Kelvyn continued to remain by my side. I was discharged at around midnight. Kelvyn and his family paid the hospital bill for me and took me home. They took me back to their place where they insisted on me to have some food, but I wasn’t hungry. I just had a small carton of whole milk. After then, Kelvyn and his sister walked me back to my place. That was the night of my life. And that is Kelvyn for you. His kindness did not stop there. He was there for others. He would put his needs before others.

Besides being an art student, Kelvyn had bigger dreams. He wanted to become a musician, a rock guitarist. Anyone can have dreams. But acting upon them is another. I remember Kelvyn inviting me and some of us college friends to his apartment and he would play his guitar and share his music with us. I could tell his passion through the mistakes and broken chords he made along the way and never giving up. It was like he was sharing his written stories through his music with us. I was never into rock music, and I am the kind of person who was hard to ‘convince’ to approve of something that I was not fond of. But when I heard Kelyvn’s music, it changed my perspective. It wasn’t the music that got my attention, but the way it was played. Kevlyn’s way. Today, I would say Kelvyn is a well known local artist in Malaysia. He’s in a band and often attends music festivals around Asia. His music has broadend, and the video above is one of my many favourites. Even with his popularity, he has managed to remain the humble old kelvyn I know from many years ago.

The reason why I wanted to write a post on Kelvyn is because not only do I want his music to be even more well known, but to also let people out there know that when you are supporting him, not only would you be supporting his music, you are also supporting a humble friend with a honest heart, no matter how famous he becomes, and that is rare. Keep dreaming even bigger and brighter, my dear friend.

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On my mind – a personal post on autism

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(Photo credit – Autism Awareness)

Every year, around this time in the UK, it is the season for charity and special needs awareness, such as breast cancer and Children In Need. So for this post, I would like to take the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with autism, a cause I strongly support.

As mentioned before, I like to make this blog personal. Whatever is on my mind, I write. Don’t care about spellings or grammars. I have never written such a personal post before, but I’m about to. Please bear in mind that I do not mean to offend anyone (if) with this post, nor cause any problem. It is all about my personal reflection and experience with autism. I don’t expect some to understand or agree with me. After all, not everyone would understand autism. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my son and autism. I love my son, and when it comes to him and autism, I wouldn’t change him for the world. I know the past is the past, but sometimes I cannot help but look back at some of the experiences.

One afternoon, I was taking my son home from school. We were catching the tube (train in London for those who don’t know the term). While waiting for the train, my son was sitting down on one of those ‘waiting seats’. Another young boy went straight up to him, up close, face close, like 2 inches apart, and asked my son,

“Why don’t you have front teeth?”

My son didn’t look at him. He started to slowly spit. Mind you, he wasn’t spitting directly in the boy’s face. It was like he was spitting slow bubbles if that makes sense. And by the way, my son doesn’t spit directly AT PEOPLE (not defending my son on this matter. It’s the truth). The reason why he was spitting was because the boy was up close in his face. My son doesn’t like that. It makes him uncomfortable, especially if he’s a total stranger. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother looked at me and rolled her eyes. I told her politely,

“Sorry, please mind my son.”

She smugged and said rudely,

“Huh, well, spitting is just disgusting.” (Her exact words)

I said angrily, and yet calmly,

“Actually, he’s autistic. And the spitting is part of his condition.”

She immediately became shock. She said,

“Oh, ok.”

I said again,

“I apologise for the spitting, but he’s autistic, OK?”

She said,

“Ok.”

She looked nervously around her and ignored me.

 

I know sometimes with autism, and some other disabilities, people can’t tell if one actually has a disability. The mother had the right to be angry, I’m sure. Spitting is unhygienic and disgusting. But she could have just ‘asked’ if my son could stop spitting rather then give me the attitude.

Another experience…..

Those with autism can have eccentric behaviours. That goes for my son. He especially likes to run or sing when he’s really happy. We used to live with our landlord. She knew about my son being autistic and said she was fine with it. One morning, she barged into the kitchen and asked loudly and rudely,

“WHO THE HELL SLAMMED THE DOOR?”

I was confused. It wasn’t me, nor my son. I said,

“I don’t know. Not me.” (It was the truth. No idea who slammed what door)

“You know what. You should control that child of yours. He makes so much noise in the morning. Learn to shut him up.” (Her exact words)

I immediately became angry.

“NO, I cannot shut my son up because he is autistic. He makes those noises because he is happy to go to school.”

“I don’t care what he is. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.”

Hmmmm, what responsibility??????? The fight ended with her storming out the kitchen and not listening to what else I had to say.

 

Another time my son and I were in a takeaway chicken shop. We were in line. My son started making noises because he was getting impatient. A group of teenagers sitting nearby started making fun of him. I turned to them and said in a normal tone of voice,

“My son is making those noises because he is autistic.”

They ignored me and laughed. I said no more, although I wanted to punch them all in the faces.

 

My son has even been called a retard or asked,

“When are you going to learn? You don’t know anything. Speak!”

I know parents from my son’s school who pushes their special needs children, who are older looking, in children push chairs. They get ‘funny’ looks when they are out in the public. But it’s ok for grown ups to push another grown up in a push chair, because we would automatically assume they are disabled.

During the Paralympics, especially during the London 2012, many say how inspirational those paralympians were. Many say it’s inspirational because we get to see those with needs, not just those with physical needs, do incredible sports. And amongst the cheering crowds, we see support. No one in the crowd would make fun of the paralympians. No one would shout out ‘RETARD’ to them or make fun if they made funny noises for no reason. No one would look at them differently. Instead, we saw them as heroes and inspirational figures. But outside of the Paralympics, it seems ok to make fun of those who make the same funny noises, or to be looked at differently if someone awkward looking was in a push chair.

I am writing this post to share my thoughts and experiences. I am not looking to start a debate or an argument. I am not saying I am in the right. All I am asking is, for those who don’t understand autism and special needs, then please be patient and understanding. If you see a child, or someone, spitting or behaving differently from others, don’t immediately assume the worse, because sometimes, they are the way they are and not because they want to be naughty or want to cause a scene.

I am so proud to say that my autistic son is already in training to one day represent Team Great Britain swimming in the Paralympics, maybe Japan 2020.

Never judge.

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(Photo credit – Facebook (Autism and other ramblings)

 

 

 

 

The Reason I Jump

boook

I’ve just finished reading a non-fiction book called ‘The Reason I Jump’ by a young, teenage, Japanese author, Naoki Higashida, who is autistic. As far as my understanding goes, the book was written when the author was thirteen years old. The book is about the author’s life with autism.

Those of you who don’t know or understand autism, here’s a brief explanation. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. Those with autism will usually find it hard to communicate and relate with others. It can also affect how they see the world. They can be sensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, colours and lights. Autism itself is broad. Each autistic individual is different. Some severe, some not. Some can grow up and live independently, whereas some would need long-term caring support.

I have an almost-six-year-old boy with autism, and having read the book really gave me a much better understanding of my son’s certain behaviours. Not that I don’t understand about autism. I do. What I mean by understanding my son’s behaviour is, for instance, after reading the book, I have a better understanding as to why sometimes he would flap his hands repeatedly, especially when he’s out in the sun, or when he repeats what I’m saying, or showing lack of emotional expressions and not speak. Naoki would explain the real reasons behind many of the different and awkward behaviours, expressions, and emotions by those with autism. I could totally relate to the book. It was as if Naoki was writing about my son. It changed the way I look at autism. It also changed the way I look at life and the way I am living it, because like Naoki mentioned, those with autism tends to see the real beauty of the world. They see the beauty of life and living, something many of us don’t see or take notice. There were some parts in the book that made me sad and almost cried, like the part where those with autism always feel isolated, and that they are usually referred to as ‘retards’ and not ‘normal’ people. Never once in my life did I think of my son as a retard. Naoki even mentioned a few times in the book about encouraging us not to give up on those with autism. Instead, he wants us to be patient and understanding. He even wants us to know that majority of those with autism understands people and the world around them, even though it might not seem like it. When I first found out that my son was autistic at the age of three, I was scared. But at the same time, I was willing to fight for him. And with the many help, advise, and support from doctors, playgroups, and parents and friends with autistic children, I managed to pull through and learn/understand about autism one day at a time. Today, I couldn’t be a prouder mother to an autistic child.

Naoki really proves that it doesn’t matter if you are autistic or have a disability or not. No one is not ‘normal’. We are humans. We are all the same. We shouldn’t judge an individual just because he/she might behave differently from others. Look at Naoki. He is an author, and ‘The Reason I Jump’ is a No1 Best Seller. And don’t forget, he’s autistic.