Hobbies and social life come second

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2002, 12:00am

For the past decade, Sally Poon Ho Wing-fong has been a full-time carer for her only child, who is autistic and mentally handicapped.

Mrs Poon, in her mid-30s, gave up her clerical job 14 years ago after Tommy was diagnosed with mental problems at the age of two. The boy refused to communicate, and would run round all day non-stop.

Friends and relatives were reluctant to help out, as Tommy would scream when he felt uncomfortable with anyone, Mrs Poon said.

'My husband and I have had to give up almost all our social life and hobbies such as travelling to take care of him. Our son is reluctant to be looked after by other people . . . My sister-in-law is the only family member he is willing to be with,' Mrs Poon said.

She said the most embarrassing experience was a family trip to Japan 10 years ago when her son cried, screamed and ran around on the plane and in restaurants. 'The whole tour group was disturbed by him but we could not stop him.'

The experience put paid to any thoughts of further such holidays abroad.