Minh was born to a family of four with her parents and her older sister. She used to go to kindergarten but her difficulty in listening and following instructions made her unable to participate in class activities. Her parents decided for her to stay at home, and her father also stopped working to take care of her.
Minh is one of the two girls in Saigon Children’s Charity’s early intervention programme for children with autism spectrum disorder. Like other autistic kids, she liked to play by herself and did not have a need to communicate with others.She liked to jump on a mattress, and would look fixated on a page when reading a book. She would not show any eagerness even when seeing her parents coming home. It’s like she is staying her own little world.
Minh is afraid of loud noises, and she is sensitive to even the slightest of sound that sometimes we cannot even hear.
Minh did not have language yet even though she could understand some basic commands around the house. She did not care about what others were saying, if Minh needs anything she just pulls on her dad’s arm to ask for help. Minh barely smiled or change her expression.
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.
After four months of early intervention, thanks to Minh’s relentless effort, she has shown significant progress. Now she can say ‘dad’, ‘mama’, make a sound when she needs help, and say a few simple words by imitation. She can pay attention and listen to some basic commands. She knows when her name is being called, and she also knows to put her toys back after playing.
More importantly, Minh has started to smile and laugh more. She likes to stick her foot out for the teacher to tickle, and every time she would hug her dad and laugh. The door to her closed shell is starting to open up.
Now Minh can imitate others more, she can recognise everyone in the family and their names. She is also adapting to noise-cancelling headphones and would ask her dad to put them on for her whenever she feel the surrounding is too loud. It is not easy to get used to the headphones but Minh is doing it very well.
The inner world of every child is beautiful, and it’s even more special with children with autism. Minh has her own difficulties and fears that others may not be able to comprehend, but her parents have been patient in trying to understand her. It is still a long way for Minh to be able to communicate normally, but she’s lucky to have mum and dad beside on the journey.
*The name of the child has been changed to protect the family’s privacy.