>Holland, Italy, Beirut…..and A Transit Stop


The girls love the Chinese New Year Decoration

We are all familiar with Welcome to Holland, a beautifully written piece by Emily Perl Kingsley. A must read for every newly diagnosed family, read it here at http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/welcome-to-holland.html

You may have even read my piece, though not written in beautiful poetic prose as Emily, however I too have been touched and inspired by her writing. Read it here at

I recently came across a remarkable piece written by Susan F. Rzucidlo. As you know, I love war analogies and yes, most times Autism does not feel like Holland where it’s calm, lonely, boring, full of windmills and clog wearing cyclists. But with a then pre-verbal, anxiety-ridden, screaming, hyper, aggressive and self-abusive child, most times in our household, Autism feels like downtown Beirut. Though the pilot says you’ve detoured and landed in Holland instead, but he was mistaken, we landed in Beirut instead. Please read it here at http://www.bbbautism.com/beginners_beirut.htm

Yes, the Bagshaw family no longer live in Holland or Beirut, we are in that halfway house on route to Italy. For even though Maya is essentially considered recovered, she is still in the recovery period. Too many illicit croissants, ice creams and missed supplements for a prolonged time and we’re on the boat back to Beirut. However, Mum &  Dad are now astute enough to make sure the boat never lands onto the shores of the war torn country. Yes, Beirut really does have beautiful beaches, but we’d rather swim in the shores of Capri.  We see the signs and notice that we’re on the wrong path. So we do a monumental u-turn and we’re back in the calm warm waters on the way to beautiful Italy again. But hang on, Italy is a long way away, you need a visa, you need to learn the language and we all need a transit stop.

Where’s my Ang Pow?

For a child formerly diagnosed with Autism, Maya is still in the Recovery stages. To many who observe her, she is Recovered from Autism, within the Non-Autistic range, a typical child or however you name it. However, at home we scrutinize her every move and sit up and take notice whenever she does something odd. She kept licking us recently, and Paul freaks out and think “oh my God, it’s Autistic behavior!” and I freak out and think “have we missed her zinc supplements?”. But when we ask her why she’s licking, Maya replies “Because I’m pretending to be a baby kitten!” and off she goes crawling and meowing……

So where is the half-way house for Managed Recovery or Recovering Autistics? For us, it’s Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Just as an alcohol addict undergoes a rehab program, he is not considered recovered just yet, he is in the recovery process. Many fell off the wagon. Even for cancer survivors, you battled cancer and survived. For the lucky ones, you can recover, not cured, but recover. The term ‘in remission’ I believe. However the fear of a relapse or another tumor coming back again is very real and very scary indeed. Just as in Autism, a newly recovered child is still in the early recovery phases. We don’t believe she will regress fully back into Autism, but we fear that certain behavior characteristics may come back and decide to stay for life. Sometimes, our fears and overactive imagination takes us back to Holland or Beirut, but nowadays, it’s mostly Maya pretending to be a kitten, loving to be cuddled and played with by Mama & Papa Cat, and chasing after her sister kitten.

Celebrate every festival in Malaysia

We are no longer in Holland or Beirut, Italy is within reach. But for now we are comfortable to say that we’re recuperating and enjoying the warmth and hospitality in Malaysia before Maya is ready to retire gracefully in Italy. Malaysia is full of colourful festivals, exotic beaches, million year old rain forests and fabulous shopping malls amidst the humidity, mosquitos, potholes and corruption, but I’d rather be here than in Holland. Wherever you may be, always remember that Malaysia and even Italy is always within reach. How long your journey takes, we don’t know. But know that the friends you have made in Holland and Beirut are there to hold your hand. Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Chai to all my friends wherever you may be. May the Year of the Golden Rabbit be a calm and peaceful year to you…..

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