Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What The Australian Women's Weekly Did For Me



*Some discussions happening in Bergen’s comment boxes regarding the Australian Women’s Weekly triggered some memories, from just about a year back.*

The Australian Women's Weekly is not just a typical women's mag like Cosmopolitan or Glamour etc. It's a real magazine with really nice stuff that I'm sure every woman would enjoy reading. You know, features on famous people, features on everyday family life, fashion, shoes, handbags, sex tips, health tips, quick recipes, gourmet recipes, the works. It's a solid magazine. But me, I buy it mainly for the crosswords.
I am a crossword puzzle freak and am always on the hunt for good crossword puzzles to solve. And so I became ardent fan of the Australian Women’s Weekly. The crossword puzzles are out of this world and can keep you going for weeks until the next month’s issue comes out (of course, that’s if you can only work on puzzles late at night when the rest of the household is asleep and on weekends! Otherwise, you’d finish em in a day!)

Anyway, I had bought an issue in October/November 2004 for the sole purpose of getting the crosswords. But that particular issue was to be more significant than just a batch of crosswords, as it became somewhat of a wake-up call that would change a major part of my life.

As I remember, it was a bright Sunday morning and the children were playing downstairs with their father. I was sitting by the open window in the bedroom having some quiet time alone with my Women’s Weekly. After trying out the puzzles, drooling at the featured recipes, then I came across an article featuring families in Australia with autistic children and some FAQs on autism. I had heard of autism before and I've read many articles about it years back. But the articles in that edition sent shivers down my spine. It hit me then that my youngest son had some of the features described, elevating the fear that I had secretly been harbouring in my mind that something was not right with him. But also something I kept pushing to the back of my mind, thinking that it could not happen to ME. I had chickened out. I didn't want to think about. Until that day.
I could say, it was the worst article I could have ever read, as it delivered such horrid news. As a mother, I could not accept the fact that my son could be autistic, but at the same time I had to be sure, so that I could help him. I did not sleep for easily a week after, thinking of what I had to do, and whether I was brave enough to face reality, if it was autism. I didn’t even share my worries with N. I don’t know why.

Finally I mustered up the courage to go and see a professional. The magazine had advised that the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better. So I followed and I am glad I did. Nasri was about 2 years old then when we first met the psychiatrist. In the end, he was not assessed as autistic, but we had a lot of hard work to do especially with his speech. He has since, gone through assessments and is currently going through his various therapies and what nots. He has changed a lot and is making good progress, laughing with us and becoming such a cute lil attention seeker! He still has rounds of assessments to go through though. The next one is just next week! Pray for us!

Being a mother, I have to admit, that again, I am losing sleep over the prospect of having to face another assessment. It’s like going through a performance review and you feel like you’ve performed dreadfully. But I suppose it really does not matter at the end of the day, what the outcome of the assessment is. If he isn’t autistic, then there are still a lot of things we need to work on with him, looking at his speech abilities now. If he is, then I guess, there are just more things we need to work on with him. It won’t be easy but what needs to be done, has to be done. Either ways, he will have all the love in the world given to him. Nothing less as he’s my son no matter what. There is still a whole lifetime ahead. A beautiful one nontheless.

Looking back, I suppose, the article that I said could have been the worst article I could have ever read was actually one of the best, as I don’t know what would have happened, had I not read it in the Australian Women’s Weekly that day. My actions could have been delayed and we could have wasted so much time not doing anything. The article was probably one of God’s one million and one ways of sending a crossword puzzle freak, a message, that she had to do something, fast!

So God Bless the day I became a crossword puzzle freak. God Bless the Australian Women’s Weekly team for coming up with such awesome crossword puzzles monthly that I don’t ever miss buying the magazine, and so that I came to read that article on that November day. And God Bless the day I finally did something for my son.

Ps. Bergen, go get one today!

26 Comments:

Anonymous umm muhd said...

that's why we need a book about autsim in Malay kan? imagine how many parents can be educated. pls go and get the book *you will dream new dreams*, even as a veteran parent, it still touches my heart and gives me a lot to think about. i applaud yr entry as you are so brave. YOU must write!! How about upgrading THIS entry, just move the emphasis on the mag to yr discovery, sorry cakap banyak

10:18 AM  
Blogger Ely said...

isnt reading such a great thing? u learn new things and sometimes make u realize about things that u take for granted or have been avoiding!

gurl, u are one strong lady. whatever it is, we ALL have to be strong for our babies kan? if not, u know where to find me :)

i love the book that i am reading now. very insightful!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Ms.B said...

In the event that your son is, naudzubillah, autistic, holler. Mr. Daddy's brother is autistic, and he's 28 years old now. Parents are traditionalist, not believing anything was wrong with the boy until it was too late. But there's a good place near Titiwangsa called IMPIAN that has done WONDERS for him. Now, he's even helping out like an orderly at an old folks' home and is finally able to make conversation with others. Long way to go, but he's come much, much farther than he's ever been. Dato' Chua Jui Meng also has a son attending the school, if I'm not mistaken.

4:29 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

dena,

i just sayang you ! (when i dont know what else to say and am just choked with emotions).

he's a fine swelll little lad and you are a great mom!

and i must start reading the mag!

5:56 PM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

Anedra, I know how you feel. Not just on account of the magazine - which I have been reading since maybe 1993. Like you said, it is a SOLID SOLID magazine, really worth the money.

I also can identify with your feelings about your son. My eldest girl has a learning disability, which did not get diagnosed early (very important, early diagnosis). Long story. Speech problem, some cognitive problems etc etc. Long storylah.... kena blog ni :) What made me realised there were problems is reading all those parenting magazines (and the AWW too). Anyway there is an online support group on Yahoo for parents of children with LD ... you can email me kalau nak cerita panjang.

Anyway, the other day at my kids' school, the best student for UPSR was an autistic child! He was one of the 29 best students in the country for this year's UPSR.

6:59 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

umm muhd: thanks. will think of upgrading this somehow ya?

ely: it's so comforting to know that i've got such great cheerleaders behind me! thanks darling! love ya!

blabs: that's interesting to know. yes, I'll definitely give you a holler! thanks for the info!

ood: i sayang you too.

QOTH: yes, I heard of that boh from Setiawangsa. well, hopefully my son boleh jadi pandai macam tu. Will prob email you one of these days. or maybe since yr bukit is near o mine we have coffee someday. Can talk about AWW and our kids eh?

7:39 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Thank you for sharing this, Anedra. It means a lot to me.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Seri Langkat said...

D!!! U're so like me!! I read the mag too but the Msian version. I'm gonna check out the Australian mag kejap lagi. It's very helpful especially the parenting and the feature article portion. Like for Dec - how to prep your kids for school - mmg helpful. I'm a sucker for the crosswords too! And yes - i save it for before-bed!

Eh, macam creepy la pulak.. heheh

Anyways, u're one great mom.. and don't u dare think otherwise.. the boys are lucky to have u as their mom!

8:13 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

bergen : my pleasure sir

serilangkat: hehe! creepy? it's prob the school we went to! thanks dear.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Dena,

Brace yourself coz now its my turn to utter some truths...

Dear lady D, I have met you and I think you are such a wonderful person. There is so much courage and grace in you that you put us oldies to shame. You are mature and confident, but the most endearing part about you is your sense of homour. That really gets to me (and I am sure many others) because the contrast with that flat-toner in you sends one off balance!:)

Anytime anywhere you want a reference or help or parenting tip or even babysitting, just holler..I can hear. Seeya soon. Yes, love you too!

8:56 PM  
Blogger dr in the house said...

Anedra,

For a long time, I have been wondering if I am the only one with this wierd longing to buy AWW for the sole purpose of doing the crossword puzzles. My question is being answered!

At times, I'd feel odd or shameful even to have such 'childish' urge.
Each time I get hold of a new issue, I'd bluff myself by scanning through each page starting from front, when in fact, the end of the mag which my heart pines for!! hehhe

Yes the puzzles are truly fantastic and it really activates my mind and insyallah if all the theories about Alzheimer's are true, we won't get the disease because we constantly work our minds, Anedra!

But of course, I do savour the rest of the mag, from the beautiful stories of hard and goodwill women down to the drooly recipes (not that I've tried much tho!) And the articles all call for great inspirations! And the gossips, be it of the royalties or the stars, they are done subtly, yet interesting.

I started reading AWW since it was priced from 9.50 rm. When the price started rising slowly, I was not that perturbed because it was still affordable compared to other mags. But once it went over 15, I became slightly disturbed and voiced my concern to the shop owner (as if she can do anything huh!) When it rose from 15 up to 18, I had occasionaly threatened myself that I would stop buying it if it rose further! Alas! Now it's 19.50 and I am still buying and reading and doing the puzzles fervently ever!!

Anedra and Qoth,
Welcome to the sisterhood of AWW CW puzzles!!! :))

btw, Anedra, I ask Allah swt that your son will develop his speech in no time just like a friend's son who was a late talker (once he got his tongue, she had a hard time keeping up!)

Take care!

12:10 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

maya: u got me into tears. such kind words, thanks! but u know, I'm actually still a teenager deep inside behind an image of serious-flat tonerism! haha! thanks for the offer. you'll regret this! ;p

doc: YAAY!! I have a sista in AWW! haha! we're the same! dulu-dulu i tried to cover it up too..but now, as soon as I get hold of the magazine, terus flip to the back part where the crosswords are! I still have a few editions from previous months where I still need to read the articles having done all the crosswords! but i do, slowly every other night when I can, AFTER the crosswords and after a few rounds of Sudoku! *Shall I tempt u again to get Sudoku?* It's the latest craze in town! At MPH they have Sudoku books. 100 puzzles for RM29!

Oh, but I so admire you , i can only complete say 80% of the colossus! belum lagi 90%!

Yeah!! AWW sisterhood indeed! Hi-Five!

As for my son, I hope he's only a late speech developer. But only Allah knows and we can only pray and do the best we can for now! One day at a time, one bridge at a time! Thanks for the prayers! :)

1:44 AM  
Blogger shidah said...

I was sharing with one of the fellow blogger about my third daughter development. Call me anxious or too anxious, but that is how mothers felt right?

For the benefit of everybody, here's the website for Impian mentioned by Blabs, http://www.impianautism.com/

1:58 AM  
Anonymous diammembisu said...

i actually did 2 years worth of crossword puzzles in Aussie women's weekly and not to mention woman's day back to back obsessionally.

there is another form of autism that doesn't actually fit the typical characteristic tapi tak ingat pulak name die. Hopefully your son would do well in the assessment.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous apples4me said...

Don't worry, Dena... I'm sure your son will grow up to be a fine individual. These (autistic kids) are special kids with good brains, actually. A mother's prayer is still the best! Just keep looking for signs..

8:10 AM  
Blogger torts said...

Ur cute lil attention seeker is gonna fine, Dene. insyallah,

9:39 AM  
Blogger ailin...in aalborg said...

Dena, my cousin is autistic. I admire my aunt very much for being there for him 24 hours a day. She quit her job, just to take care of him. He is now approaching 30, but still like a 3 year old. Even though he does not develop mentally, he does so physically. My aunt has had to sustain bruises and assaults from him each time he has fits. I can only imagine the day when my aunt will not have anymore energy to take care of him. Now, each time you mention your son, I remember my aunt and cousin.

10:25 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

shidah: yup, us mothers, we're like that! but we're only being concerned over our lil ones cos we love them so much! kan? thanks for the link!

diamembisu: you too?? hi-5!! the autism thing, u'r prob thinking of asperger's, PDD, ADD, ADHD? I dont know, there's just so much stuff going around out there these days..

apples: thanks

torts: I hope so!


ailin: so far my son is ok. no fits, no extraordinary tantrum spells. Just very little speech and comunication skills inapproriate for his age. Wallahualam..I only pray for the best and do what I can now so that the day when I'm no longer in this world he will be a-ok, somehow! InsyaAllah!

4:43 PM  
Anonymous ariel said...

Dear D,

such a wunnerful article.. i pray that things would continue to improve with Nasri..
Have you ever heard of Zaman? Kamarulzaman Ahmad.. the sauber petronas eng who's very much publicised for his involvement in F1? well..he is a friend.. and he told me.. he was 4 years old before he spoke his first word..his mother was soo worried.. brought him to be tested here and there.. but of course.. that is understandable being a mother. but now, zaman is talking 19 to dozen.. and never stops sometimes :-) .. and very successful he is too..
another friend has a son with einstein syndrom.. seems dat the child would start talkign after a certain threshold age.. and yes he did.. about 4 ish too.. and now he is gonna be in standard 1 this coming january and his mama said, sometimes she would have to ask him to slow down as he talks too fast :-)
i'allah dear.. with a mother like you .. he'd be just fine ...
btw.. like SL, i read the malaysia edition of the weekly... maybe i should start on the AWW too huh ;-)

6:42 PM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

That boy from SK Setiawangsa who did so well in his exams, has a form of autism called hyperlexia. It does not affect his learning capabilities, but it causes some behaviorial problems.

My kid's paed said it is dangerous to label a child because we then tend to limit what he/she can do. And most of the time, these labels aren't even 50% accurate because there are so many forms of learning disabilities and the symptoms overlap. It is a very difficult situation, no doubt. But patience and understanding helps a lot.

6:50 PM  
Blogger ummi said...

dear Dena,

this is the 4th time i came to your blog just to read this posting. everytime i read i had trouble controlling my tears. its hard enough for me to write anything when i'm happy..but its even worst..when i'm choking all inside...

...i can still remember the look (of love)in your eyes when you were talking about Nasri that day we had lunch in your house.
I can still remember that cute little boy climbing all over the terrace sofa...& how badly i wanted to hug him but held back for i don't want to shock you for my "too friendly" behaviour'

Whatever the outcome is...you be strong okay??!! you are a special person Dena...and you are a Great and wonderful mother to Nasri

all my love to you and Nasri
kJ

7:00 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

ariel: yes, start reading the AWW. it's so much better than the Malaysian version! Thanks! My baby will be fine, insyaallah. It's just a matter of time, or a matter of perspective - how we look at things, yes?

Her Royal Highness The Queen: SOund like we go to the same paed! Yup, it's true, labelling could be dangerous. My son's psychiatrist was also careful to tell me that it's too soon to label, plus after the assessment he didnt have enuff criterias to fulfill the "autistic" thing and like you said, these things overlap from one thing to another. The good thing about the assessment was that I knew soon after what needed to be done, and how to get professional help for him. Which has helped tremendously. Patience - yes I need that to balance myself and keep me sane! Thanks to blogger friends like you, I feel ok and blessed! :)

7:06 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

KJ!!!!!: I was wondering where u've disappeared to! Now u made me nangis! Alahai KJ, you're a mom, you know how I feel and you'd do exactly the same! Next time, go ahead and hug, I wont be shockedlah! Thanks for the encouragement! Like I said to the Queen, it's people like you who make me feel extra blessed! My love to you too!

*eh, bila kita nak gi minum-minum kopi ni??*

7:09 PM  
Blogger ummi said...

i'm still around Dena.

still suffering from my tootache. supposed to pay another visit to the dentist early this week...but postponed (to don't know when yet) for i can still feel the pain from the drilling...ouch!

yes..we shall meet soon..not for kopi...but lunch with our vip (M) next week kan?!

8:49 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Reading this make me feel so shamefull for always forgetting to bersyukur for having wonderful normal daughters.

Thanks and I am sure Nazri will be fine. He has all the LOVE a mother can give. InsyaAllah. Things will work out fine.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous umm muhd said...

tuan rumah, tumpang lalu...

dear apples4me,
when you said kids with autism have good brains, did you mean savants? fyi the percentage of savants among kids with autism is very low, instead more than 50% of kids with autism have been diagnosed with mental retardation. it is very important to get this information straight as it impacts policy and decisions on how to design their education plans. autistic savants however get more attention thanks to hollywood movies such as Rain Man & Mercury Rising.

2:13 AM  

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