Living with autism
The New Paper
By Chai Hung Yin
When she gave birth to her first child seven years ago, Ms Brenda Tan, 37,had no clue that the boy, Calder, would be different.
Then, there were some warning signs. At 18 months old, Calder didn't like to look at other people and he still couldn't talk. He also seemed obsessed with spinning the wheels of his toy cars.
As she had no comparison, Ms Tan didn't realise anything was amiss. It was only after a routine check-up that a paediatrician raised the red flag . Ms Tan tells The New Paper on Sunday: "The paediatrician called out his name but he didn't turn to look at her. He just continued doing his own thing.
"She also asked him where his eyes and his nose were - to get him to point. But he didn't seem to understand her."
He was then referred to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital where it was suggested Calder go into child care in the hope that social interaction with other children would improve his speech and social skills.
Ms Tan, a part-time lecturer with Nanyang Technological University, followed the advice but Calder did not show any improvement. He still could not talk by the time he was three.
She says: "It was then we decided to take the diagnostic test and he was found to be moderately autistic."
Ms Tan wasn't ready for the news.
"I was in a daze for a year, wondering what happened. At the same time, I read up voraciously on autism," she says.
Since then, Ms Tan has learnt to come to terms with her son's condition.