Recognising 'super mums' of kids with special needs

Group sends cakes and appreciation packs to 32 mothers of children with autism

Left: Madam Chan Fui Lee, with husband Cheong Weng Thim and daughters Cher Lynn, 19, and Chel Sie, 17, with the cake she got from Be Kind SG. She says it is comforting to be called a "super mum".
Madam Chan Fui Lee, with husband Cheong Weng Thim and daughters Cher Lynn, 19, and Chel Sie, 17, with the cake she got from Be Kind SG. She says it is comforting to be called a "super mum". PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHAN FUI LEE

Chel Sie was just over a year old when she was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder, which had caused part of chromosome 18 to be deleted. Later on, she would also be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Chel Sie's mother, Madam Chan Fui Lee, is one of 32 "super mums" who received a free cake and appreciation pack this Mother's Day, as part of an initiative by Be Kind SG, a group that aims to raise the visibility of communities and causes rarely in the spotlight.

The group worked with Friends of ASD Families, a Singapore-based Facebook community page, to identify the mums of children with ASD.

The cakes were baked by Metta Cafe, which provides training to youth with special needs, and delivered last Friday and Saturday.

Madam Chan said it was difficult to accept Chel Sie's condition at first, but she came to terms with it eventually. "We don't have a choice what kind of child we have, but we have a choice whether we want to accept the fact and do our best to care for her," said Madam Chan, 52.

She and her husband, a 50-year-old software consultant, have another daughter aged 19.

Chel Sie is now 17 but still has the developmental age of a pre-schooler. She is highly dependent on her family for her daily routines, added Madam Chan.

She said receiving the cake showed that people empathise with parents like her and it was comforting to be called a "super mum" rather than a "bad mum".

In the past, others have looked at her with disapproval when her child acted out in public.

The cake came in time for a double celebration for the family, as it was Madam Chan's husband's birthday last Saturday.

Be Kind SG's founder Sherry Soon said children with special needs are struggling during this period as their routines have been disrupted. "This is an extremely stressful period, not only for children and youth with special needs, but also their caregivers. Hence, we came up with this Mother's Day initiative to show some encouragement to the 'super mums'."

For many, this is a special Mother's Day, as it comes amid circuit breaker measures.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that for mothers working from home, the distinction between work and home has blurred, as they multitask between different roles while doing their regular jobs.

"To all mothers, take heart that your efforts are deeply appreciated and that you are loved and cherished, even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it. May you enjoy this special day with your loved ones," said PM Lee.

In a one-minute video, the People's Action Party's women MPs thanked mothers in Singapore for the love, resilience and hope they inspire in Singaporeans.

The video, posted on Manpower Minister Josephine Teo's Facebook page last Saturday, acknowledged that for many who do not live with their mothers or grandmothers, celebrations will have to wait. "But saying 'I love you' is something we can do any time. Perhaps now, more than ever, is that time," it said.

The Families for Life council, which aims to build strong and resilient families, put up an online concert, Homemade for Mums, on its Facebook page at 8pm yesterday. It included guest appearances from local singers JJ Lin, Stefanie Sun and Kit Chan, who read out Mother's Day dedications.

Other local singers such as Joanna Dong and Aisyah Aziz performed songs as a tribute to mothers.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2020, with the headline Recognising 'super mums' of kids with special needs. Subscribe