Autistic children are not inferior to typical children. They may lack some qualities that typical children have, but at the same time, they possess amazing and advanced qualities that surpass not only their peers but surprisingly, even some adults. Hence, they just have different milestones when compared with typical children.
Typical children are not necessarily cleverer than autistic children. It's just that autistic children learn things in a different way compared to typical children.
I seek therapy to reduce the disabilities caused by autism, that I see are hindering my child from reaching his full potential. That is the journey that I talk of, the progress that I chart, and in no circumstances do I intend to make him or want him to be non-autistic.
I unconditionally and wholeheartedly accept Raiyan to have autism because on a large scale, that is what makes him who he is. However, it is through this journey and the progress that he makes, that has allowed me and others who know him, to learn, understand, accept and appreciate him better for who he is. He may be different from typical children when you first meet him but spend no longer than a day with him and I would be surprised if you don't think he is less than wonderful.
I hope Raiyan can help to change the stereotype perception that Brunei has on autism now which I have found to be outdated, misguided, depressing and unhelpful.
It cannot be denied that autistic children need urgent help. This should be dealt with early, quickly and intensively and in accordance with a properly managed programme based on scientific evidence.
However, just because they need help does not mean they should be looked down upon and be viewed with nothing but sympathy. Though we appreciate you applauding them for being able to sing, read or act in certain ways that you didn't think they can do, please also know that such praise may be patronizing for some of them because you can be amazed with some of the things they can do. Because autism is a spectrum, get to know the individual autistic child first before you judge him or her based on the stereotype perception that you may have.
With the alarming rising rates of autism, it is high time society start understanding what autism is and start being accepting and tolerant.
I hope they can do so through reading about Raiyan, a certified child with autism, living and growing here in Brunei.
Ultimately, I hope Raiyan can help represent a new generation of autistic children that this country have not only accepted wholeheartedly into mainstream society but is proud to say is one of theirs.