SHEROES Bios: Esah Lim

Esah Lim

SHEROES Bios is a collection of 12 selected stories taken from “ULTRAordinary SHEROES”, a collaborative project by The HEART Enterprise, Up Your Game Community, and Our Unique Stories to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.

When Esah’s husband died from liver cancer in 1997, she was left to raise three children on her own. Her youngest child, Ivan, was only seven years old then. Being severely autistic, non-verbal, and hyperactive, Ivan required specialised education and personal attention.

After he left school at 12 years old, Esah tried enrolling him in other special needs centres. For the next 16 years however, no school or centre was willing to take him in. With nowhere to go, Ivan spent every day at home under Esah’s close supervision. The single mother decided to stay with her son all the time as he often hit himself and suffered from self-inflicted injuries. Due to the constant self-injury, Ivan is now unable to see with his right eye.

As a teenager, Ivan slipped out of the house unnoticed on two separate occasions. The first time it happened, he got into a road accident. He was hit by a car and lost his two front teeth. The second time, he wandered into an MRT station and got onto the MRT tracks. A member of the public pressed the emergency button and Ivan was eventually rescued by the station staff.

Respite for Esah finally arrived in 2018 when SPD’s Day Activity Centre (DAC) expanded its enrolment to serve adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and offered Ivan a place. He now goes to the DAC twice a week.

Esah admits that it has been a tough journey and says that she has persevered through because of the responsibility she feels towards her son and the positive outlook she has adopted. To encourage other parents who are in a similar situation, she tells them to always take care of themselves first. “Before you can look after your child, you have to look after yourself.”

Esah’s story first appeared at the ULTRAordinary SHEROES event organised by The HEART Enterprise and DISTRii Singapore on 8 March 2019.