Gratitude Sniffles

I know the title isn’t that hip but I couldn’t think of anything more apt to entitle this post.

I have always appreciated the magic John Chua does for Henry. The first time they met (Meet John Chua: Reluctant Yet Certified Angel), it was an evident bro-mance in the works.

I wasn’t going to step-into this bro-mance. because Henry was in need of a robust male role model in his life. He was losing his self-confidence having to deal with so much for being a special needs child navigating through a neurotypical environment that had a limited perspective about the world. Henry and his brother are not like that. Their imagination runs beyond the confines of norms. And here comes a successful personification of the antithesis of conformity, John Chua. It didn’t take a gifted person to see the sparks surrounding Henry and John.

John has done a lot for Henry. So many gorgeous photos taken of them together with Maali say it all. Henry has had more pictures with Maali at the Zoo than anywhere else πŸ™‚ The boys think of the world of their uncle. John appointed ‘assistant zookeeper’ for Maali. He had him co-featured on a TV spot about autism and animals. Every time something good happens to him, he wants his uncle to know. People thought he was making it all up as he has his head in the clouds conjuring daydreams most of the time. But this was something physically real that he could talk about and meant a lot to him. A lot of people couldn’t relate but I know my son…

Derek is still navigating himself around socially but the only animal he interacts with is Maali. Any other animal, he’ll squeal like a frightened mouse πŸ™‚

At this moment, John is facing a fight against PETA. This radical group of animal rights activists want Maali out of the zoo and transferred to some sanctuary in Thailand. Maali has been with the Manila Zoo for almost 30 years now and this is the only home she’s ever known. This transfer could do more damage for Maali and PETA has been known to use extreme measures under the guise of ‘doing what’s good for animals.’ John and his family are fighting to keep her in the Philippines.

I don’t like to engage myself in another person’s fight. It’s their journey after all. I have to give them the respect to be able to rise above their challenges and find themselves. I may not fight against PETA but I can definitely speak for me and my son… I found my facebook post shared on John’s timeline.

Is it worth the fight for Maali… Yes… If I have to do it alone… I will… for many children and for one special friend. HENRY… who dreams… one day he wants to be my assistant zoo keeper… I was hurt when someone said “Maali’s interacting with the children doesnt have any bearing in this meeting” I wish she coud read this comment from the mother of Henry.

Henry goes through a lot: therapy, school, and tutoring. As he goes through all of them, he was losing his self-esteem because he was always taken from a standpoint where there is something wrong with him and he couldn’t understand why everyone was dogging on him for behaving ‘badly.’ What is autism anyway? I’m just a kid’ …But Maali and John didn’t see him that way. The rest of his world couldn’t do what an elepant and his ‘uncle’ did for him to restore his confidence. No mother can ever put a price on that. Thanks, Maali! Thanks John!

*sniff* *sniff*

When you’re a special needs parent and you’re looking for solutions, you’ll find yourself banging your head against the wall for ideas because you can’t find anything that seems to work. Who knew that I only needed a elephant and a bold ‘uncle’ who stood and fought for what he believed in.

I can’t talk about the nuances of this battle but I can definitely talk about Maali’s valuable role in my son’s life. That will be the only weapon I’ll use for this episode.


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