At the conclusion of our Family Talk, at Yew Cheung International School opposite Australian International School, after Q & A, I invited the students and the teachers to come forward and say hi! or give a hug or take a selfie… and with a cheerful roar, three hundred students swamped Mui in a scrum of smiles and laughter!
One smiling teacher shared with me: ‘The kids don’t normally do this!’
Another, to another teacher exclaimed: ‘I told you it would be like this… I told you, didn’t I!’ and her colleague agreed, ‘You did!’
One girl, no more than 14 years of age, approached Tina on her way to Mui, and with a smile she said, ‘I saw some of the teachers cry today!’
And Mui? She barely spoke. Instead, she grinned and posed for selfies and was hugged, and hugged others back and was group hugged and autographed the arms of students.
Giving school and corporate talks – our Family Talks – remains something very new for all three of us. We’re not old hands. We’re not tired, professional motivational speakers. We’re just a mother and a father and a daughter.
It comes constantly as a surprise to us that our story generates such emotions as tears. We really wonder why. Perhaps because as most parents of a child with special needs say, we say: it’s simply normal life. And Mui? She knows nothing else. Life is life, we enjoy it. We do not see it as a big task. We see our daughter’s potential; we want her to be independent.
Mui says: ‘I don’t see myself as being different. I’ve never wanted to admit I have special needs. I just want to get on and do my thing. I’m thankful my parents have enabled me to live a pretty normal life.’
Nevertheless we do know that most parents of children with special needs are all too often given short shrift. Their stories are under-reported. It’s why perhaps so many such marriages end in divorce. The frequently-quoted statistic is of a majority divorce rate in marriages where the parents are raising a child with special needs. It’s a startling statistic. Perhaps it shows how much more attention should be paid to the lives of such people?
Thank you too to all those who responded warmly to my previous blog: The elephant in the room / the insult in the street. It was a big decision for Tina and me to reveal that such things as being insulted in the street still happen to us; and to reveal, too, that we both have been diagnosed with PTSD, and that we have a normal family story not a “Disney-ending” one. Thank you for your kind support.
Sharing our story as The Girl Behind The Face is a platform to empower others. We are grateful for all the support and opportunities we receive.
Please “Like” our Facebook page The Girl Behind The Face to help us to continue challenging attitudes.
For more on our school & corporate Family Talks, or to book one, please see our website for details.