“If I had access to early intervention when I was small, my development

This was a confession from D, a 26 years old autistic man-made with saigonchildren during an interview for The Steps Challenge to promote understanding regarding Autism Spectrum Disorders and the importance of early intervention for children with ASD. D is currently working for his family company after successfully graduating from a well-known international university in Vietnam. 

Due to the negative misunderstanding of autism and afraid of gossip from outsiders, even though, D had shown some symptoms of an autistic child, his family decided to ignore those signs and saw it as the actions of a young naughty kid, therefore, he missed a wonderful opportunity to access with early intervention during the golden period (3- before 7 years old). 

Thus, this is a reason why D has faced lots of difficulties with his studies as well as interaction and communication. Although he had received extra tutoring sessions after class, however, his tutors were not special education teachers and did not know how to support autistic students. So, studying was a disaster for him. Over time, the academic pressures have significantly increased, therefore D mental health status was getting worsen with it. 

Then, D there was an incident which damaged his self-esteem and got him in trouble at school when his cousin, who was also his classmate at that time accidentally knew about D had autism. That person decided to tell everyone at school about that to bully and make fun of his disability. After a long time of suffering from horrible physical and mental assaults from his discriminated classmates, he finally reached his breaking point and ask his parents to change school immediately. 

Things did not seem to be easier for D was studying in the final grade of high school. Heavy academic pressure combined with the lack of learning support from his high school had worsened his mental health issues even more. He was not able to sleep until one day, D decided to talk to the school principal about his problems. 

Very fortunate for him because that conversation was the turning point of his life. Understanding all the challenges that Đ was currently facing at that time, the teacher decided to have another discussion with his parents, therefore coming up with the solution for D to go overseas for autism diagnosis and intervention. At the age of 18, D had been diagnosed with High- Functioning Autismland combined with other mental illnesses: bipolar disorder and hypersensitivity resulting from long-term effects of stress and anxiety. Shocking and disbelieving were the feelings that his parents have at first, but then they realised that facing the fact was the only way to help D become a better version of himself and receive the right treatments that he deserved. 

Overcame 1 month of intervention, D returned to Vietnam to study for his undergraduate degree at a well-known international in HCMC, where he met the love of his life, the person who understood him more than everybody else in his family. She opened her heart and empathised with him and his disability. She created opportunities for him to go out and socialise and communicate more to improve his communicating and problem-solving skills, so he can confidently work and live with others without any self-pity or hesitation. 

When asked about The Steps Challenge and 30 Days of Autism Awareness, the couple shared that they loved the idea of the event. It is not just an event to keep fit or fundraise, but also provided participants with useful knowledge regarding ASD, which is thoroughly meaningful. 

D’s wife confided: ‘By sharing D’s story, I would like to encourage families with autistic kids to give them access to early intervention, as soon as possible. This is truly a life-changing approach to help children with ASD communicate better, and behave better, therefore, helping them to adapt and reach their full potential.