Mother of six raising three autistic children
SHAH ALAM - It is hard to imagine how Zarinah Zainal Abidin managed her eldest son, Mohd Azzakhirin Idris, 23, who is diagnosed with level 3 autism or severe autism and her other son and daughter Amal Darius, 14, and Nur Laila Damia, 10, who are both diagnosed with level 2 autism (moderate autism).
The 45-year-old woman said her eldest whom she called Aki, exhibited aggressive behaviours that can harm himself and others.
She said even when Aki was little, the signs of autism were obvious as he was not able to speak and experienced a neurological disorder at 18 months old.
Like other autistic children, she said Aki always seemed to be in his own world.
"When I took Aki to the clinic, they referred his case to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
"Imagine, it took more than seven years for experts to confirm that Aki is a special needs child," Zarinah said when contacted.
"Aki's mental state worsened when he turned 15.
“He started to rebel, screamed every night to the extent that the neighbours called the police.
“The worse thing was he would hit his siblings mercilessly. My heart felt like it was being stabbed when I had to tie up Aki's legs with a blanket before taking him to the emergency room if such incidents occurred," she said.
She said after going through several distressing situations, experts finally decided that the teenager should be given sedatives and receive regular psychiatric treatment.
Little that she knew, while she was busy taking care of Aki, her other son and daughter whom she called Darius and Yaya respectively were also diagnosed with autism.
"When Darius was little, I saw symptoms similar to his older brother, but I turned a blind eye and considered he was normal because he could talk.
"But when he complained about being bullied at school because his friends teased him for imitating people's speech and not being good at cleanliness, I was shocked," she said.
Zarinah revealed that her son's peers had changed his personality to become quiet, suffered from severe depression and he even considered himself useless due to being marginalised and belittled.
“Upon the doctor's advice, I took him for further examination. Alhamdulilah, now he is happily attending school under a special integrated education programme with his other special needs friends,” she said.
Zarinah said while Aki's aggression was hard to handle, Yaya’s symptoms were more worrisome, as she often heard and saw supernatural things.
She said her daughter often harmed herself, like banging her head against the wall.
"Every time she 'sees' things, Yaya would tell me about her fears.
"Perhaps because I'm close to her, it's a bit easier to console her when she starts behaving in such a way," she said.
Zarinah said although she was worried, she has resigned to her fate.
"Thinking that my three children were born like this and not like other children, I've accepted it.
"Perhaps in this world, we're tested in this way, InsyaAllah in the hereafter, we'll be blessed with happiness and joy.
"Please pray for us to have a long life so we can continue to care for our children.
"Deep down in our hearts, my husband and I are worried about their situation if we are no longer here, but I believe that God is the most merciful,” she said.
Zarinah said her husband’s income as a factory operator was barely sufficient, due to the difficulties they faced.
She said they have to bear monthly psychiatric treatments and medications for the children.
“I am embarrassed to ask, but if there is anyone out there who is willing to help our family to alleviate some of the burden we bear, only God can repay it," she said.
Those who wish to offer financial assistance and contributions can transfer the funds directly to Zarinah’s BSN bank account at 0511 4298 5658 8446 (Zarinah Bt Zainal Abidin).