My name is Elene Kua. I have been working at Fajarbaru for the past couple of years as a Senior Accounts Executive. My job entails handling accounts for the Trading and Plantation segments. Fajarbaru has built itself to be a diversified Corporation, which in turn provides me many opportunities to work with different industries. This has pushed me to keep learning new things every day. It goes without saying that this position also involves its own set of challenges; from chasing tight deadlines, to hounding on external parties for audit confirmation purposes.
At Fajarbaru, I also happen to hold the title of Sports Club Treasurer. My main responsibility is to compile and manage the budget for activities organized by our Sports Club. I always volunteer to participate in club activities and am constantly thinking of new exciting activities for my fellow team members. For instance, a simple Christmas Gift exchange during the lockdown successfully brought smiles to their faces!
Although busy - I am truly committed to my role here at Fajarbaru, in addition to my main role as a mother to my autistic child.
Truthfully, being a mother to a child with special needs while balancing a full-time career is definitely a trying task. Ever since my bundle of joy came into my life, I’ve made many sacrifices in terms of my work-life balance. Today, my world essentially revolves around my job and my family. It is a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make in return for my family’s wellbeing. Thankfully, I am blessed with an equally committed and loving husband who shares the weight of my responsibilities as a parent.
Of course, our parenting struggles were made more prevalent during the course of the COVID19 pandemic, for changes in the new norm were tougher for my son to adapt to. When dealing with a child with special needs, even the little things take time. Simple things like wearing a mask or hand sanitizing were met with resistance because repetitive routines are essential for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
However, my main concern during the pandemic was my child’s education. Choosing the right school that supported my child’s needs was indeed very challenging. When we eventually did find a suitable place, it also presented new financial challenges. I am thankful however, that throughout the whole year of 2020, there were no major retrenchments at Fajarbaru and we were still given flexibility in terms of our working schedules. It truly made the biggest difference.
In fact, working at Fajarbaru has been an incredibly empowering journey for me as a mother of an Autistic child. The company’s policy of granting ample amount of flexibility for their workforce has opened more opportunities for me to rise to the occasion as a member of the team, while still being a devoted mother. I still get to send and fetch my child from special-ed school and day care while being a contributing member of the team, thanks to the support of my colleagues and superiors.
All these challenges, of course, are always met with an astonishing sense of gratification at the end of the day. The experience has allowed me to focus on the what’s important and have a broader perspective on things. For me, what is paramount is that my child can lead a ‘normal’ life. Everything else is secondary to that.
I’m aware that my child may very well not be an “achiever” in the usual sense of the word. Chances are, he won’t excel in academics and sports, or become the valedictorian of his class. But that doesn’t matter to me, as there are many other opportunities for me to be proud of him, as any mother would be of their child. Our success is when he overcomes any of his past limitations, like learning a new word, trying something new on his own, or simply shares a toy with someone. It’s a simple but very beautiful experience.
If you are a mother to a child with special needs, please don’t give up, and be very patient. As many of you may or may not know, children diagnosed with ASD don’t like changes; it might take them time to accept and adapt to new routines. But that in no way means there’s no room for improvements from your child. Every child is special in their own way. We should celebrate and be proud of who they are and the journey it takes them to be a better version of themselves.
If you suspect that your child might have ASD, don’t give up, and be optimistic. I reckon that you should monitor your child’s behaviour and seek for professional advice. You may also consider your child to undergo an Autism assessment and diagnosis, or opt for therapy starting from a young age, to help your child build on their skills instead of losing them over time.