A Special Needs Child, Zhe Xuan has his second Art Exhibition
Phua Zhe Xuan is autistic. He has been a patient of ours for years … Klinik Pergigian Fauziah has had an on-going Special Needs Programme for kids ever since we started the clinics back in 1988.
When Zhe Xuan first became our patient, he used to throw up on himself (and us!) and squirm and squirm and squirm … it took several consistent bi-weekly visits, but now Zhe Xuan is a veteran in the dental chair! His mum, an angel of a mother, accompanies him without fail every few months now, to make sure he gets his clean-up and check up.
It was sweet when Zhe Xuan became a celebrated artist … he paints beautiful paintings with vibrant acrylic … and had his second art exhibition today at The Penang Village Art Corner in Great Eastern Mall.
It was such a proud moment for us all … his family, teachers, friends (many from the Parents Resource for Autism) turned up for his exhibition!
Especially moving for me is that Zhe Xuan is now a student of my son, Omar Shahbir, who is also Special Needs!
Shahbir works with MA Joseph Special Needs Facility as an assistant teacher, and Zhe Xuan is his student … Shahbir coaches him on writing and other living skills … things he too had to learn when he was Zhe Xuan’s age.
Perhaps this understanding, of how difficult it is to learn things which most people take for granted, is why Omar Shahbir is so patient and good with special needs kids.
Zhe Xuan, like Omar Shahbir, has to learn things like sitting still, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, crossing roads and socialising, quite unlike ‘normal’ kids. They’re not stupid … they just process the input they get from the world differently … and when they find the things that they love, they embrace it with a passion!
Watching Shahbir with Zhe Xuan made the tears come to my eyes … Shahbir was so proud! He’s Teacher Omar to Zhe Xuan.
Another autistic patient of ours, Jeanie was there too … 16 year-old Jeanie had taken part in the Standard Charted 24km Bike Race with other special children … she’s training for her first Triathalon!
Her mum and dad were delighted to hear about Omar Shahbir’s fencing feats. Shahbir has competed in the Singapore Open, the Hong Kong Open and the Bangkok Open for Fencing … and not as a special needs person either!
It is so inspiring to know these kids, who start off in life with so many, many challenges, get to live their lives doing things that they love … and they can earn a living for themselves too.
If someone like Zhe Xuan, Jeanie and Omar Shahbir can find their passion and begin to live useful and meaningful lives, well, so can anybody!
That’s the inspiring lesson I got … and it was hard to hold back the tears today.