No rest for mum of adult son with autism
Mum says she doesn't care what people think
Madam Esah Lim, 60, has not taken a vacation for 27 years.
The youngest of her three children, Ivan, 27, has severe autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
He is non-verbal and requires constant supervision.
While Ivan sees a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health every three months, Madam Lim shares her experiences with parents of similar children in a caregiver group.
Her contributions to the group earned her a Courage Fund Healthcare Humanity Award yesterday, after she was nominated by a medical social worker.
This year, 98 healthcare workers, caregivers and volunteers received awards. Recipients will also get $1,500 to $2,000 each.
Madam Lim, who became a single mum after her husband died from liver cancer 20 years ago, found out about Ivan's autism when he was three.
She told The New Paper: "I cried a lot back then. Sometimes, I felt like there was no way out. But I realised that I needed to be strong for my children and fight on."
As Ivan grew older, more supervision was needed - self-inflicted injuries caused him to lose some vision in his right eye.
In his teens, he ran away from home twice.
The first time in 2007, he was hit by a car and lost his two front teeth.
Three years later, Ivan slipped out of the house and ended up on the MRT tracks, and was rescued by SMRT employees.
While he is calmer now, Ivan is still put on a restraint to prevent him from running off and causing harm to others and himself.
For "leashing" Ivan, Madam Lim has received judgemental looks from passers-by.
Madam Lim, who is supported by her two daughters, told TNP: "People stare. They don't understand and think it's strange, but I do this for Ivan's safety so I don't care about what they say."
He main concern now is how Ivan will cope when she is no longer around.
"Ivan's two sisters have their own lives so I can't ask them to take care of him 24/7," she said, hoping that more can be done for autistic individuals whose caregivers have died.
Senior medical social worker Teo Ginnyueh, who nominated Madam Lim, said: "Madam Lim has shown that with positivity, challenges can be managed and obstacles overcome."