SINGAPORE — She put him in a mainstream primary school, then challenged him to take Malay as a second language (their mother tongue is Chinese). She also fought for him to be allowed to enlist in National Service, but the Ministry of Defence exempted him because it felt clerical duty would still be too challenging.
For Ms Silvia Buniardi, 44, she did all these so that her son, Seth, could experience all that life had to offer him.
Seth was born premature at 33 weeks and was diagnosed with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder at an early age.
“This is how he can learn,” Ms Buniardi said in an interview with TODAY recently. “I don’t want him to take the easy way out. I know things can be very challenging for him, but I am here and can help to guide him along the way. We just have to try.”
Seth, who turned 19 this year, is now in his first year at Singapore Polytechnic’s Common Infocomm Technology Programme. He told TODAY that he hopes to attain a Diploma in Infocomm Security Management so that he can protect the cyber space from threats in the future.
Ms Buniardi has detailed the complex challenges of raising a child with special needs in her book, Extraordinary You. It chronicles Seth’s life, her journey through his diagnosis and the high and low points that they have been through together.
Ms Buniardi hopes the book can create greater awareness about children with special needs and encourage families who are on the same journey that they are not alone.
“I want people to know that for people with special needs, their diagnosis does not define them,” she said. “With the right support and accommodation, they can maximise their potential and contribute to society.”
A LONELY JOURNEY
In her lowest moments, Ms Buniardi had contemplated suicide and even thought of “bringing Seth along” as she believed that he would not be able to survive without her.
The stress of having to juggle the many demands of raising a child with special needs overwhelmed her and she found herself bursting into tears for no reason during that period of time.
Though she was not proud of what happened, Ms Buniardi felt that it was important to tell her story because there may be other parents out there struggling with the same problem.
“I think I’m not the only one and maybe there are other parents that are going through the same thing. I want them to know that this is not a weakness, it’s not a flaw. It’s normal,” she said, adding that Seth is the one who gives her strength to pick herself up and continue.
“I never thought it could happen to me when it did, (and) it really frightened me,” Ms Buniardi said, adding that after that period of her life, she took the time to take care of herself to prevent herself from burning out again.
Her husband, Clement, took time out from work to provide her with more support and she also leaned on friends to raise her spirits when she needed a break.
“I realised that I had to take care of myself before I could take care of my family and especially my son,” she said.
For full article, please visit: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/her-son-has-special-needs-so-she-fights-him-experience-life-all-its-colour