by Blessed Ummi
Everyday is unpredictable, but also joyful and exhausting. – Saliha A. Latif
Saliha Latiff is a Singaporean mother to two boys currently living overseas to accompany her husband who is out-stationed in Egypt. Parents to children with autism who are familiar with the virtual support network would recognise Saliha’s thoughts and sharing about her experience being a mother to her older boy who is diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) through her Facebook page ‘Embracing Autism’. Her page has garnered significant following and her earnest and sincere reflections would tug at your heartstrings and possibly be your source of comfort. Read more about this reflective lady in our personal interview with her.
Tell us a bit more about yourself! What are you currently doing?
I’m a full-time stay-at-home mum (SAHM), but we all know that the job of a stay-at-home-mom is never *just* a mom. We all know the actual neverending tasks, daily 😉
On your Instagram and Facebook pages, we see that you are supportive of the autism cause. You share generously on your experiences raising your son. Could you tell us more about that?
My son was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) a little after he turned 3 and then with high-functioning autism (HFA) eight months after. Only through IG and FB, I strongly believe that I am able to share the awareness and promote acceptance for individuals with autism everywhere. The stigma is terrible in Singapore, even amongst relatives and it’s especially hard since autism is somewhat an invisible disorder. These individuals just *think* differently, that’s all there is to it. They are not weird, they are just different. Neurotypical people like us should be more mindful of what they say, because individuals with autism are much more sensitive than we are.
What’s a typical day like? We hear that you are also homeschooling your son. Tell us a bit more about that.
Everyday is unpredictable, but also joyful and exhausting. I get lots from resources from Teachers Pay Teachers, School Sparks, Education.com and certain others. I also carry out simple speech and behavioral therapy and introduce lots of social stories for possible incidents that a child his age may face. When he faces regression, (homesickness, upset about not being able to play much – we don’t have free-for-all playgrounds here) , I cut down on academic learning and have school sessions by the Nile, in his favorite restaurant, once a week at the very least. We’re passionate about essential oils, too! As my son doesn’t ingest any kind of medications (due to high anxiety and sensory issues), we oil him daily with Thieves, Cedarwood, Lavendar and Lemon.
What are the challenges that you have faced in raising your children? How have you overcome these challenges?
I get homesick now and then, especially when family is miles away. I miss my mom’s and mother-in-law’s dishes, conversations with my father and spending time with my sisters and their children. My husband and I always remind each other that we only have us. Sometimes we rewatch P. Ramlee movies just to reminisce our time back in Singapore.
Do you feel that there is still stigma with regards to autism? Could you describe some of the things that you have experienced yourself that reflects this stigma?
Most Singaporeans excel in staring, instead of offering help or emotional support. The stigma will always be there unless Autism Rescource Centre or the government steps in, initiates autism acceptance, get lots of posters pasted up at train and bus stations instead of lingerie ads and the likes. Myself and a few other fellow autism parents from Singapore are initiating a standardized email for our Members-of-Parliements in hope to share autism acceptance. It’s truly isolating to parent a child on the spectrum in a foreign country, and then have people who do not understand that being high functioning doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s eligible to enter mainstream public schools, because he isn’t. We have received his latest report on his psychological assessment and our doubts have been proven right. We have also accepted the truth fully. Our kind doctor have also given us the green light to pursue homeschooling for the time being.
What are some of the advice you can give to other ummis who might be in the same situation as you are?
You’re never alone. Of course Allah is always there but you also have to reach out to other autism moms or special needs moms. You will feel a lot better and more confident to face the daily struggles.
Blessed Ummi would like to thank Sis Saliha Latif for this heartfelt interview! We pray that Allah continues to ease her and her family, as well as other parents who may be facing a similar situation out there.To honour Saliha, we named our beautiful Saliha 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
- Norlizan Mohidu Kunyalee – A homemaker who believes in including her children to care for their brother who is diagnosed with ASD