Woman is mother to son, her own mum and sister, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Woman is mother to son, her own mum and sister

Ms Thamburajulu Porchelvi, 60, used to feel nervous when she left for work in the morning.

Her 33-year-old son and 80-year-old mother were dependent on her.

Mr Janarthan Balakrishnan has autism and gets epilepsy attacks. He was five years old when he was diagnosed with autism.

Ms Porchelvi told Tabla that she had taken her toddler to a speech therapist as he seemed to have trouble with his speech.

Mr Janarthan also has weak limbs and needs help with showering.

“He gets mood swings and would throw tantrums. Only my mum and I can understand his emotions. He may be smiling one minute and throwing a fit the next," said Ms Porchelvi, who is a full-time administrative assistant at a logistics company.

“I tried sending him to daycare centres but he would cry, so I have no choice but to keep him at home.”

Mr Janarthan needs daily medication and an injection every three weeks to regulate his mood.

Ms Porchelvi, who was divorced from her husband when Mr Janarthan was five years old, checks in on her sister regularly. Ms Porchelvi's sister, who lives alone, has dementia.

"She has no one else. Sometimes I have to remind her about things. Since she is also suffering from depression, she needs my moral support,” said Ms Porchelvi.

“I struggled after my divorce. I had no one.

"My dad died about 10 years ago. Janarthan became depressed because he was very close to my dad. He didn’t understand why his grandfather was suddenly not there. It took many years for us to make him understand.”

Ms Porchelvi's mother has heart, liver and thyroid issues, and diabetes. “She is very weak and I cannot depend on her to take care of Janarthan."

The Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) has stepped in to support the family.

Mr Janarthan now gets weekly training from Minds’ home-based care services, on basic skills such as solving puzzles and throwing and catching a ball.

Minds will release a series of six modules on life plans, living arrangements, and support networks and services later this year. The modules are part of Minds’ beefed-up online portal on future care planning options for caregivers, called FutureReady.

This comes after Minds saw an uptick in inquiries from caregivers on making future care arrangements.

“The conversations highlighted a growing concern among caregivers regarding future planning for their children with special needs,” said Ms Ong Lay Hoon, director of community-based support services at Minds.

“They wanted more detailed information on the schemes and grants available, along with guidance on asset distribution to ensure their children’s financial security in their absence.”

Some of Minds’ initiatives have helped Ms Porchelvi, who has also undergone caregiver training, alleviate her financial burden in taking care of her family.

She engaged a helper three months ago to care for her ailing mother and son while she is at work. She also took up side jobs like baking and selling murukku online.

In a bid to secure her son’s future, Ms Porchelvi hopes to gradually increase his exposure to the outside world.