by Blessed Ummi
In this edition of The Inspirational Ummi series, read all about Norlizan Mohidu Kunyalee, whose name we borrowed for our highly sought after ‘Eid Norlizan Dress!
Seek help. Do not live in denial. Do not feel embarrassed. It doesn’t do any good for either you or your child. The child has to face the world, so let’s equip him with the necessary tools. – Norlizan Mohidu Kunyalee
Norlizan is a homemaker and a mother to four children aged between 11 years old and 10 months. With four children, one can only wonder how she manages the household and caring for her children. One of her children has been diagnosed with autism; her resilience and keenness to learn as much as possible about her child to support him best are what we can learn from this humble lady. Read more to find out how Norlizan went about her way to give her special needs child the best support and tools she can while still including her older children in the experience.
Tell us more about your experience raising a child with special needs
Clueless at first! I learn as we go along. Taking each day at a time. Got myself educated in everything related to Autism. I attended courses and workshops, pick up tips from all the therapist that worked with my child.
What are the challenges that you have faced in raising your children? How have you overcome these challenges?
My special child needs extra attention. I have to make a point to not let his siblings feel they are not as important. I have not overcome this totally. I need to keep reminding myself to make time for the other children too.
Could you tell us more about your special needs child? What were some of the strategies you used to help support your child better?
He was non-verbal till age 5. He gets frustrated a lot whenever others don’t understand him. Frustrations would lead to meltdowns and escalate to tantrums. He can get violent at this point, hurting others. Alhamdulillah, I am blessed with 2 older kids who understand their brother’s condition. Time and again I explain to them why adik (younger sibling) is behaving like that, why he needs extra care and attention. I talk to them about Autism. They will come along to his therapy sessions, just so they know he needs all the extra help to live a typical life, something that everyone of us has taken for granted.
MashaaAllah your children are so blessed! Do you feel that there is still stigma in Singapore with regards to special needs children? Could you describe some of the things that you have experienced yourself that reflects this stigma?
Our society is not exposed, therefore they are not accommodating, especially so for children with invisible disabilities, like ASD kids who have meltdowns and behavioral issues. A lot of times, my child is labelled ‘naughty’. Or we even have people trying to teach us how to parent our child.
So how do you usually counter these misperceptions?
If situation permits, I will try to explain about autism to these people. Tell them why my child is behaving like that. There were also times when I lose my head and just tell people off!
What are some of the advice you can give to other mothers who might be in the same situation as you are?
Seek help. Do not live in denial. Do not feel embarrassed. It doesn’t do any good for either you or your child. The child has to face the world, so let’s equip him with the necessary tools.
Could you include information on how or where, briefly, parents can seek opinions or a diagnosis, or any kind of autism support?
If there is even a little concern about your baby’s development, do bring up the issue during their health check-ups.
I am now a believer of alternative therapy. These have worked for my child better.
- BrainGym Playhouse www.braingymplayhouse.com – A centre that helps children with learning difficulties through Brain Gym, a series of physical activities that were developed in the United States that have been proven to improve the functioning of the brain.
- TherapiesRuS http://therapies-r-us.
blogspot.sg/?m=1 – A Singapore-based practice owned by Yonie Bonawie that specialises in a multi-modal approach in helping individuals harmonise and their bodies
- Singapore Muslim ASD Parent Support Group (Facebook group) – by invitation only
Who are your role models who have impacted you to be who you are today?
I do not have a role model. I do not know any special needs ummi before. But my mother is my pillar, my strongest supporter. When I was “lost” during the initial diagnosis period, she was always with me. She reminded me not to lose faith, that everything happened with Allah’s will and to ask for His guidance and to seek His help. She will always try to accompany me to doctors’ or therapists’ appointments.
If you could also bring to light other mothers within your community whom you would deem an inspirational mother, who would it be?
Nadirah. She is not a special needs mom. I met her at one of those workshops I attended. She was the speaker and she was so full of positive energy. She made me see my special child from a different angle.
To honour Norlizan, we named our best-selling Norlizan Beaded Lace Dress after her!
The Inspirational Ummi Project was born out of a desire to share the secret stories that mothers hold behind their everyday struggles. Mothers are known for their quiet strength, and every mother is inspirational. Blessed Ummi hopes to share more of such stories because we know that sharing makes the motherhood journey less lonely, because we know that struggle is the middle name of motherhood. Struggle can be beautiful, and struggle need not be lonely. There is much we can learn from one another.
All ummis we feature will be honoured by having a collection named after her and all stories will be permanently on the web Just a little something we can do to leave behind a legacy of stories to empower current and future mothers, and to inspire all of us to live life to the fullest despite our own personal life journeys.
Read about other mothers we have featured before:
- Raudah Laza – a young mother who juggles degree, a teaching career and an online educational print shop
- Ildasolha Jamari – Singapore’s first Malay boardbook for children author
- Azlina Abdul Samat – A reflective educator and mother who delved into the world of essential oils for her family and practices simplicity as her parenting principle