Teen's cerebral palsy no barrier to an active life

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am


When Letty Lam Foon-yee gave birth to a daughter 17 years ago, she wasn't sure the child would survive. Rainbow Tang Wai-hung weighed just 900 grams and developed cerebral palsy, which affects movement control. Now a Form Five student studying at a mainstream school, Rainbow is a top student, a swimmer and plays the piano.

'Everyday is a bonus to me,' Lam said.

Lam recounted some of her experiences yesterday at Citywalk shopping centre in Tsuen Wan for the launch of Shall We Talk?, a collection of stories about parents with special-needs children.

Lam's first daughter, now 23, was also born with cerebral palsy, and she and her husband did not think at first they would have another child.

But doctors encouraged the couple to have a second child as companion to their daughter.

'I didn't know that God thought I was so capable that he gave me two daughters with special needs,' she said.

Lam said her own mother, now 84, greatly encouraged her.

'When my daughters were young, it was really tough. She came over to help me every day. She told me: 'Don't give up, they'll grow up.''

When Rainbow first transferred from a special school to a mainstream primary school, Lam went with her to every class.

'Whenever she needed to move around, I had to be there. It was tough, but I was happy,' she said.

'Taking care of her, I had to put in a lot more effort physically than other parents, to support her and carry her,' Lam said.

'But she's a good girl, I can see her perseverance. She's willing to overcome obstacles and make an effort to try.'

Because of her physical limitations, Rainbow needs more time to complete her homework and keep up with her piano lessons.

But it's all paying off; she will sit the Grade 8 piano exam this month, fulfilling a promise to her mother to keep practising until she could attempt the exam.

'Mum taught me to persist. She developed this character in me,' Rainbow said.

Patty Sham Suk-ngai has also encouraged her wheelchair-bound son to do his best. Sham's 17-year-old has dystonia, a syndrome of sustained muscle contractions.

'I told him not to compare himself with others, he only needs to try his best and that's enough,' she said.

'I said he should be thankful because he can eat and talk. He's more fortunate than many.'


The share of Hong Kong children with cerebral palsy who attended a mainstream school, according to a 2003 survey