Bob Lee and his son Jun Le at Enabling Village
Every Father’s Day, we celebrate the love and dedication of fathers from diverse families. Navigating the ups and downs of parenthood is no easy feat, and it can even feel lonely at times, especially for parents of children with special needs.
Meet Bob Lee, father of 16-year-old Jun Le who has autism. Sharing his journey of parenting a child with autism, Bob speaks candidly about how his relationship with Jun Le has grown throughout the years. Like many caregivers or parents of children with special needs, he is no stranger to caregiver fatigue. Accepting Jun Le’s diagnosis and understanding his condition were physically and emotionally draining, especially when he also had to explain it to family members. Bob and his wife were in a constant process of learning and unlearning. He recalls how easily frustrated he would get whenever Jun Le could not do basic tasks such as tying his shoelaces. “Frankly speaking, one of the best ways to cope was to cry. You need to cry it out!” Once he felt better, he dedicated his time to learning about autism from support groups, books, seminars as well as other caregivers.
Over time, acceptance and understanding allowed them to truly cherish and enjoy their time with Jun Le. He chuckles, “My wife and I said if there was a pill that could cure autism, I might not know how to handle this boy! I’m so used to him already!”
Bob, a photographer, also used his experience to amplify the voices of the special needs community. With support from SG Enable, he exhibited a project in 2021 called Finding What’s Next, which featured 9 stories and 11 families who had children with autism. “Enabling Village was also kind to let us use the Caregivers Pod to carry out video interviews. With the Caregivers Pod, I was able to interact and meet other caregivers who were facing the same struggles.”
Bob at the Caregivers Pod located in Enabling Village
Despite its challenges, being Jun Le’s father has also been incredibly rewarding. Jun Le has had a profound impact on their entire family, including Bob’s relationship with his siblings. “He’s the glue that binds the family together. We really came together to support Jun Le and because of that, we became very close,” he explains.
Since leaving their corporate jobs and becoming freelancers to care for Jun Le, Bob and his wife have had newfound freedom to create precious memories as a family. “Sometimes on a random weekday, we would make impromptu trips to KL!” He has also learnt a lot from Jun Le, such as an appreciation for the simple things in life.
Bob and Jun Le spending time on a trip together
Like many parents of persons with disabilities, enabling their children to live independently is a key concern. Bob believes in early education and practice, teaching Jun Le technical skills with a lot of patience. He celebrates every little achievement, such as when Jun Lee successfully made simple orders at the coffee shop by himself.
Jun Le is also the talented artist behind Junlefont and showcased his art at the i’mable Gift Market at Enabling Lives Festival 2022. After the event, Bob was inspired to set up an official online store for Jun Le’s business, extending their range of merchandise to support Jun Le’s capabilities.
Jun Le and Bob speaking with staff from SG Enable
Looking towards the future, Bob hopes that his son can learn as many skills as he can while he and his wife are still around. They wish for Jun Le to learn to live an independent and fulfilling life, supported by organisations that cater to the unique needs of individuals with autism.
Jun Le and Bob pose for the camera while enjoying a scenic view
Interested to learn more about caregiver support? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about i’mable Collective here, an initiative under SG Enable and organiser of i’mable Gift Market.