One Wedding and A Break-Up

Raiyan, Zaty, Alisha & Zana

Jeff's nephew got married at UBD last Sunday and we managed to conjure enough courage to bring Raiyan along. The last time I went to a wedding, I just brought Alisha and everyone asked where Raiyan was and so I couldn't help feeling guilty (even though I know I shouldn't) about leaving him, the bigger sibling, at home. And since we're on a roll with introducing him to new things, we thought we'd just give it a go.

The last and only time we brought Raiyan to a big family function was in December 2006 (you can read about it here) and he was a complete nightmare. Of course at that time, we weren't aware of his condition so I ended up getting very angry with him and we just left the function abruptly. But this time round, I thought we're definitely more prepared. On our part at least, we can withstand the stares and curious looks because we already understand Raiyan to be how he is and if anybody would want to insist on asking why he's like he is, we'll simply say "he's autistic." On Raiyan's part, I made sure we don't bring anything that he is obsessed with that would give him any reason to throw his now infamous tantrums.

For the most part, it went quite well actually! He stayed with me, Alisha and his cousins Zaty and Zana most of the time. Yes, he did run up and down the hall with the sporadic shoutings but nothing so obviously different from the next child running alongside him. Towards the time of the Doa being read he started getting restless though which is understandable as by that time he's been there for almost an hour. Out of respect, Jef took him out of the hall. Raiyan then mistook this as going home time so he started shouting out for his cousin and that's when his new obsession finally dawned on us- his cousin Zaty.

All this time, he has always been more clingy to Zaty than the rest of his cousins but we just always thought that it's because she knows how to layan him. But Jeff and me would notice that Zana devotes an equal amount of attention too and yet he seems to be more fixated on Zaty. For the past year, everytime we visit the neneks' house or Zaty's house, there'll always be a mini drama when it's time to leave as naturally he doesn't want to let Zaty go. There was once even a ritual of driving him around the block with Zaty before he'd be ready to say good bye. (Don't worry, we've stopped doing that now).

But in recent weeks, his cries for her seems to have gotten worse and yet we didn't see the flashing growing obsession lights. I had an inkling the week before when Zaty actually followed Jeff and Raiyan home. So I thought the next time he sees Zaty, let's try and not give in to him and just bluntly take her away without explaining anything or trying to pujuk him.

I was right. At the car park at UBD, Jeff and me just quickly said bye to Zaty and told her to just go straight to her car and don't look back (and assured the little sweetheart that she doesn't have to feel guilty as what she's doing is HELPING him in the long run). Then Jeff, F.I.L. and me had to walk all the way to our car at the end of the car park with Raiyan screaming away "NOOO! ZATYY PWIISS (a.k.a. please..)!!!PWWIISS ZAAATTYY!!" and there was Jeff and me plainly ignoring him for the world to see. I tried a few times to avert his attention by asking him if this or that is our car but he wouldn't have any of it. He was very, very distressed. Needless to say, he cried for more than an hour after that.

It's so much harder when the obsession is a person compared to when it was just things, because it's natural to just think that he loves his cousin and just wants to spend time with her and so why should we deny him that, right? And at least he's showing loving affection to another person which is always good right? But as we know, with autistic children, obsessions and rituals can become really serious and permanent. Zaty is just blossoming into a teenager and that is an enough struggle on her part without having to worry about a young boy following her around until god knows when (inda jua cool tu!). So we're probably going to have to do this a couple of times until he can actually say bye to Zaty without crying. We also have to make this intention clear to the family to avoid them thinking that we're just trying to separate him from Zaty. We just have to make Raiyan understand that it's ok to say bye to Zaty because InsyaAllah he'll get to see her again and in the mean time he'll have his family to play with at home. I cannot stress enough on how important team effort is in this type of situation. Otherwise, we all might just have to pay extra for Zaty's honeymoon cause Raiyan wants to come along!!


PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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