Ana emailed me about a week ago to ask if I would feature posts by Adults on the spectrum. “You bet!” I replied.
Ana rang me today (from Australia) as she is very keen to see me post and I had to explain that I’ve been too tired to write. I’ve just been through a week of anxiety with Gracie that involved a lot of obsessive compulsive behaviour and not a lot of sleep (for either of us.)
We have been trying to reduce her meds for the last 6 weeks in consultation with her Psychiatrist, as they have health implications that are amplified by puberty. I guess we brought them down too much, too quickly.
When you are in the middle of something like that as uncomfortable as it is for you; the most distressing part is how much your child is suffering.
Having people like Ana who have experienced these things, and have the ability to explain it is such a privilege. It gives me strength to support Gracie better through understanding.
I am going to leave it to Ana to tell her story in her voice, unedited and I would encourage you to read, share and give her your feedback. She really deserves her own blog but I’m delighted that she has given me the opportunity to introduce her to you.
Cultural note: Ana and her family are from a part of Sydney, Australia that was settled by South East Asian immigrants in the late 70’s and 80’s. Australia has been shaped by waves of immigration since WWII. As with any new country the immigrants cluster around certain areas surrounded by their own language, culture and food. They are often too busy earning and trying to put down roots to be able to learn enough english to navigate bureaucracy and access state services.
Her family name of Nguyen is pronounced “Wen”
Thanks for the honor to be able to write on your blog. It’s been really fab. Anything to do with autism is good, as long as it generates publicity then it doesn’t matter really. As long as it’s good publicity then it’s all what matters, as an autistic woman living in South Western Sydney, I feel that I still need to be out there doing “autism awareness”, spreading awareness though my music, political activism and through public speaking and fighting the stigma and also fighting the social taboos within the area of multiculturalism and uniqueness
I feel personally that it was important, so that was why that I am doing this. I am doing this, so then at least that I can educate my people, in the area that I am from and I will never forget where I am from.
To introduce myself to you all, I am Ana Nguyen and I come from Fairfield (in the South Western Sydney), Australia. And I have autism. I was diagnosed at the age of three, it was really tough that I could not understand. I had no idea on what I am going through, as I have struggled massively. I have been through meltdowns, not knowing how to communicate, nor express myself in a way, punching the doors, ripping the house apart, always alone and never social (very normal, if you’re like me, of course but that’s how I dealt with), I bang myself in the head and I was violent, I was somewhat a control freak, i get scared, i get feared for the worst to come. Not knowing what I had. But I am sure that I have gone through these moments, like many of you. I am no different. I have going through personal troubles like everyone else and I am no means perfect. I am just like everyone else.
It freaked my parents out. It scared them deeply. My parents had to work really hard to make ends meet, in a bid to pay for the house and for my autism, if that counts on my radar. It does surely hurt, especially when people have been ignorant of my parents. They have no understand of what it was going on at the time and felt like that they have been hurt by these events, but had quietly kept on working, day in, day out and paying all these bills and on top of it, is that they have to look after me and my brother 24/7. It was really hard on my parents but gladly, they taught me on the importance of hard work and it’s something that I will learn from my parents.
And I am glad that I did. My parents taught me to do the right thing and respect my parents.
At the age of three (in 1993), I was diagnosed with severe autism. It was a shock to my parents. I did not talk before the age of five (in 1995), I was put then to special needs schools in Lansvale and Smithfield and in 1996, I went to Holroyd Special School for one year before I was transferred to Merrylands Public School (in 1997) and stayed there for the whole duration of my primary school education. I did not know who I was when I was at those schools, I did not know how to communicate, nor be able to express myself in a way as I should, I did not have any friends, I copped racial abuse due to the fact that I am Vietnamese, different and unaccepted and I had no confidence.
I was too dependent. I was too needy. I was then had to learn how to read and write basic words, right in the beginning and know the simple numbers (in the I.O class) before I went to the I.M class (in 2010) and is gladly progressing while being in those classes and was being able to learn the very basics (of arts, writing, reading, spelling, maths, etc), right in the beginning and learned how to speak well and socializing with people (as socializing and communicating is difficult for me and will have to find another way to express in a form), read, write and how to swim before I was left to say goodbye and moved on to high school, in which that I finding it scary, as I was forced to left my so-called friends behind and start a new chapter without them. It made it very easy, as everything was done for me but it gets pretty hard as I was literally had to be on my two feet and was forced to adapt.
it was one of the hardest things ever and I am finding it difficult, I have been bullying, copped racial abuse and name calling during my time and in one point, the guy that bullied me was forced to say sorry over the SARS Outbreak and it made me cry that I had to tell him and that was why. and the whole bullying and the abuse had went on, every single time I went to school, it happened constantly, it could not stopped by the amount of bullying.
I was literally be forced to ignore them and quietly gone on with studies while the bullying continued on and at one point in time when it gone really bad with bullying, I was forced to quit my education altogether and gave up. But I did not give up and completed my HSC despite bullying and the amount of abuse that I get everyday at school. It knocked my confidence down right through its tears but the music and being in the arts, every after school and weekends saved me and singing too, added to that. It was my escape. At least it gave me a voice to express myself in a way I wanted to and I have the opportunity to work with like minded people and all sorts and was used this time to escape bullying and the abuse and to also master my skills as a performer and the arts, as I aspire to be a performer and that was what I am working on to achieve my goals at the time.
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