Autism in the Asian Community


Things Need to Change

Pam Malhi talks about her personal experiences with autism in her family and why it is important for others, particularly in the Asian community, to accept the condition.


Autism is a journey that will truly change and shape your life in a way you never thought possible. It will make you question everything you’ve ever believed in; including yourself. Autism is an invisible disability. To many they look normal yet they are so different. They live in a totally different world, they don’t see what we see, they don’t understand what we understand, they can’t relate to things like we can. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that while many people on the spectrum will share the same difficulties it will affect everyone in a different way. The three main areas of difficulties affecting someone with autism are social communication, social interaction and social imagination.


My daughter, Aaisha, is now 18 it’s been a heart breaking journey that we both have been on. The moment you realise that what you had planned or had imagined for child is no longer a reality. It will truly be a soul searching moment. There will be tears and lots of them. You’ll feel your heart break in a way you never thought possible. Autism will have this impact on you but by no means is it the end of the world. Progress may be slow and at times none; however I have learnt that with patience and love you will have some truly groundbreaking moments. My daughter was 6 years old the first time she spoke, the first time she called me mum, is a moment that will stay with me forever. She doesn’t have many words and we’ve never had a full conversation and we may never have one either. To know she’ll never experience things that everyone else takes for granted is hard. She’ll never come home and tell me she’s found the one. I’ll never see her get married, as a parent the impact that has on you is heart breaking. I have never once wished she wasn’t mine, never once thought that this wasn’t happening to us. In our house autism is accepted, embraced and loved beyond bounds. Yes it hurts, yes it’s difficult and yes at times you think this isn’t fair.


She may not always understand what I say, she doesn’t always respond to me, she can lash out in frustration and meltdowns are not nice to witness. To see your child lash out and even try to hurt themselves simply because they can’t understand what is going on around them is always unbearable. You can’t punish a child for something they don’t understand or is beyond their control.


Autism is undeniably misunderstood and is something that has no awareness in the Asian community whatsoever – this needs to change. These children have a right to be a part of society. They have the right to be accepted for who they are, they can’t change the way they are. Autism is nothing to be ashamed off; neither should it be considered a burden. We as a society all have a duty to learn about these things that would make a huge difference to parents with autistic children; you may not be able to help us but to know you understand is all we need.


Autism awareness and acceptance is hugely important to us parents, so we too feel our children are just as important as yours. So our children can be accepted just like yours even if they are different, they may be different but by no means are they less. You can help by helping me raise the awareness of autism, by talking about it, and understanding it. The difference that this would make is huge. It would help others parents not to sweep the issue under the carpet. I want every parent of a child with autism to feel accepted. Never to feel that they cannot take their children to the local park or to shops, things that some parents don’t even think about twice. So let us all raise awareness together and make a difference to not only society but to our community who I’m extremely proud to be apart off.


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