Minh was born into a family of four, with her parents and her older sister.
When she started kindergarten, Minh had serious difficulties with listening and focusing. Eventually, the only solution was for Minh’s father to quit work and home school her instead.
Minh is one of the two girls in Saigon Children’s Charity’s early intervention programme for children with autism spectrum disorder. As is common among children with autism, Minh enjoyed playing alone and didn’t feel a need to engage socially. As a highly sensitive person, Minh was nervous of loud noises and was acutely aware of her surroundings. She was an avid reader and was described as living in her own little world. Minhs parents noted that there was no change in her attitude when they would return home from a day at work.
Minh’s lack of emotional displays, or changes in expression, worried her parents, who went out of their way to engage and smile around Minh, in the hope that she would pick up their mannerisms. Additionally, Minh’s language development happened very slowly, and around the house, she was more likely to communicate by pulling on her father’s arm when she wanted something.
Minh’s parents did not know how to communicate with her, they felt as if they could not connect with their own child. They longed for the day when their child would show some excitement when seeing them after a long day. Even though they are quiet people, Minh’s parents had made effort in talking and smiling more so that Minh would notice.
Now, thanks to four months of Saigon Childrens Charity early intervention proramme, and Minh’s relentless efforts, we are seeing significant progress. She can now say ‘mama’ and ‘dad’, make a sound when she needs help, and say a few simple words by imitation. she has a better attention span, and responds to some basic directions. She knows when her name is being called, and to put her toys back after playing.
Most importantly, Minh has started to smile and laugh more. She likes to stick her foot out for the teacher to tickle, and everytime she hugs her dad she laughs. Slowly, this little shell is opening up to the wonderful world.
Now Minh can imitate others more, she recognises everyone in her family and their names. She is also adapting to noise-cancelling headphones and asks her dad to put them on for her whenever she feelsoverwhelmed by her surroundings. It is not easy to get used to the headphones but Minh is prevailing and suceeding.
The inner world of every child is beautiful, and it’s even more special with children with autism. Minh has her difficulties and fears, and others may not be able to comprehend them, but her parents have been patient in trying to understand her.
Minh still has a long way Minh before she will be able to communicate normally, but she’s lucky to have her nurturing parents beside her on the journey.
*The name of the child has been changed to protect the family’s privacy.