Sunny Chan Overcomes Obstacles to Care for Autistic Son

By on August 26, 2012 in NEWS, Star Interviews

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Sunny Chan’s (陳錦鴻) son, Edgar Chan (陳駕樺), was born in 2007. When Edgar was two years old, Sunny and his wife, To Man Wai (杜雯惠), realized that their son had speech problems. Two years later, the couple also discovered that their son had mild autistism. Aside from having learning difficulties, Edgar also had problems interacting with people. To help his son to cope better, Sunny employed a teaching aide to shadow Edgar in school.

Wanted to Prove That His Son Has the Capability

Sunny was informed by Edgar’s teaching aide that he was lagging behind in learning as compared to his classmates. A normal child will learn one word per day, but Edgar can only learn one word in a week.

Realizing his son’s condition did not improve, Sunny took a break from his work in September last year, after filming for a mainland Chinese drama, Mei Tsai is Greater Than His Master <妹仔大過主人婆II>. Losing a stable income for one year, Sunny stated that taking care of his son was a priority.

“I never calculated it at all. Whenever there is a call to invite me to work, I will just reject it. I never think about how much [money] I have lost. As a father, what can I do for my son? I can choose to work from day to night like before, but my son’s condition may never improve.”

Sunny is even more determined to show that his son can overcome his learning barriers, “I feel that there is no reason for him to be like that. Therefore, I use two hours in the weekend to teach him ten words. I want to prove that he has the capability, but I do not have time to spend more time with him previously.”

A father’s Love and Devotion

It was not an easy year for Sunny and his wife. Edgar is an antisocial child, treating his parents as if they were transparent. Possessing slow learning abilities, Edgar also has speech problems and an erratic temperament. Often portraying a “Mr. Nice Guy” in dramas, Sunny is also a devoted father in real life.

For the past year, Sunny spent his time and efforts to nurture his son. Besides accompanying his son to various classes such as speech therapy and behavior management classes, Sunny also spent the rest of the day at home to take care of Edgar.

Sunny dedicated time to nurture his son’s interests. When Edgar developed an interest in music, Sunny and his wife would send him to drumming class. When the school taught him words such as “ferry” and “swimming,” the couple would take their son on a ferry trip and swim together to make him understand the words better.

Trusting Relationship With Son  

Edgar does not trust people easily, and does not even accept advice from his teachers and parents. Whenever Sunny corrected his mistakes, Edgar would take it as a form of challenge from his father. As a result, Sunny was determined about building rapport with his son and gradually gained his trust.

The 45-year-old actor revealed that he often climbed trees with his son. “Whenever we climbed a tree together, I will sing to him, ‘Climb tree, climb tree, one step at a time. Daddy holding me and I am climbing high!’ Whenever we had an action, I will make a song for him to make him learn the vocabulary in the song.”

Sharing that the father and son’s tree climbing activity have strengthened their relationship, Sunny said, “He will want to climb as high as possible, and will be terrified whenever he climbs higher. Whenever he loses his balance, I will hold him. We climb every day. He loses his balance every time, and I will be there for him every time. After climbing for two months, we finally established a trusting relationship. When I correct his speech or vowels, he is willing to listen and no longer throw tantrums at me. His improvement is faster. Now when I teach him to pronounce a word at a time, he can understand the meaning.”

Sunny Moves to Suburban District Because of Son

Because of his son, Sunny and his wife moved from the city to the suburban district. Sunny believes that Edgar will improve better if he lives in a quieter environment. Sunny will take his son to walk for an hour in a park daily. Revealing that his son is fascinated with sounds, Sunny hopes to stimulate his son’s interests by exposing him to new things.

In the suburbs, Edgar has the freedom to do things that he likes without disturbing the neighbors. He is able to lead a more carefree lifestyle of playing ball and singing loudly. By exposing Edgar to natural surroundings, he can absorb learning better. Sunny shared that he was able to show Edgar what a snail looked like when he just learnt it from school.

Sunny Understands Son’s Learning Difficulties

Sunny revealed that Edgar may have inherited the speech problem from him. Sunny had trouble picking up English when he was a child, and could not recite A to Z in the correct order.

Recalling his agony in childhood, Sunny said, “I have an English language barrier. In secondary school, everything was taught in English be it chemistry, physics or biology. I did not understand at all! I was detained in Secondary one, and I did not understand what the teacher was speaking everyday. I only pretended to understand. As I did not want the teachers to complain to my mother, I only pretended to listen during the classes. It’s such a torment, the feeling was terrible. I really do not want my son to be like me.”

Realizing his own language difficulties, Sunny put in extra efforts to memorize his script before filming. Filming period dramas are especially difficult for Sunny, as the sentences are harder to decipher. Sunny will memorize his script, read them out loud and tape his words. He will listen over and over again until he understands the meaning and only then will he proceed with his acting.

Sunny Puts Aside Having Another Child

Sunny initially planned to have more children, but he decided to focus his time on helping Edgar instead. “In the past, I wanted to have more children. I have discarded the idea already. I am not young anymore. If I were to have another child, he would not even graduate when I reach 60. Besides, I never know what problems Edgar may be having. I always thought that if I have more children, they can accompany him. Now, I realize that I should just focus on resolving his issues.”

Sunny also revealed that his wife will become a full-time housewife in September. Sunny will return to TVB to resume his work and earn money for the family. However, Sunny mentioned that if given a chance, he would still prefer to take care of his son at home.

Sunny is Elated Over Son’s Improvements

Putting in efforts to help his son over the past year, Edgar finally showed a marked improvement. At his kindergarten graduation ceremony, Edgar is able to perform a recitation on a stage. Both Sunny and his wife were overjoyed over their son’s accomplishment. Recalling that his son could not even speak a proper sentence before, Sunny said, “Now he can recite already! He can also memorize the entire book. The progress is extremely satisfying and shocking!”

Source: Ming Pao # 2285 via ihktv.com

This article is written by Stella for JayneStars.com.

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19 comments to Sunny Chan Overcomes Obstacles to Care for Autistic Son

  1. Lucia says:

    Thumbs up for Sunny and his wife for being devoted parents!!

    It feels really great when a child is improving because it shows that everyone (the parents’ devotion, the child’s effort, the professionals’ help, and etc) hard work has paid off.

    Does Hong Kong elementary school offer Special Day Class for students with learning disabilities?

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    • elin replied:

      agree lucia.. abig thumbs up for daddy sunny.. well done..

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  2. Funn Lim says:

    Sunny Chan has always given me the impression he is an optimistic guy who always looks at the bright side of life. His son is lucky to have him a s a father.

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    • exoidus replied:

      Yeah, he is indeed lucky in a way to have Sunny as his daddy.

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  3. YQ says:

    I’ve always had a liking for Sunny Chan. Kudos to him, great daddy! 🙂

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  4. Helena says:

    What a great parents!!!

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  5. skinnymocha says:

    Gosh, such lovely parents!

    “In secondary school, everything was taught in English be it chemistry, physics or biology. I did not understand at all! I was detained in Secondary one, and I did not understand what the teacher was speaking everyday.”

    Are most schools in HK like this (or even other countries where English isn’t the native language)? When you hear older HK stars like Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung speak English, they have great vocab and not such thick accents. However, the current generation sound a little… iffy.

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  6. j says:

    So impressed with sunny. sounds like he may have dyslexic growing up without knowing it.

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  7. stranger says:

    he seems like a wonderful father!

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  8. thewong says:

    There was a recent study that indicated a correlation between the age of the father and the likelihood of autism in a child.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/health/fathers-age-is-linked-to-risk-of-autism-and-schizophrenia.html

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  9. sandcherry says:

    Congratulations, Sunny. You and your wife are great parents. Your son must be very proud of you two.

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  10. anoninhk says:

    i’m not really a fan of sunny’s acting but i really, really like him for his optimistic, warm personality and the way he so obviously loves his family. he’s a great father, putting so much care into his son’s upbringing. i am not sure if my dad would have done the same. hope edgar’s condition keeps on improving.

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  11. mtse says:

    People like Sunny who through adversities bring another dimension to life. It transcends to his work and for him, it’s acting. The depth he brings to his characters can be felt.

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  12. Hannahh says:

    He and his wife defnitely 24hrs good parent! Hope he son get better and better soon like other kid.

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  13. Alice says:

    Sunny is a good role model of a parent to special child. Be it mild or severe case, I strongly believe he will outgrown it soon, under the parents hardworking and love, couple by today’s modern therapy.

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  14. Bridget says:

    Glad to hear his son is progressing well. Hope every day is better than the previous for Sunny’s family!

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  15. NP says:

    It’s refreshing to hear positive news.

    Mental illnesses is still very taboo in almost all cultures. It’s great that Sunny is a role model in showing that parents can work through these issues with their children. The child is lucky to have these great people as parents but the parents have also become better people because of their son. Kudos to all!

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  16. piggybjorn says:

    Great parents!Wish you guys the best on everything. Btw, I still confused about “mild autism” but they often show as regular autism. What are the differences?

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  17. neightbor says:

    live in USA, my neighbor’s son is a autism kid, neighbor and his wife both work in the medical field, so they found his austim problem in early stage. they also spent a lot of time with the kid to “”play””, a lot of time to play, playing is a therapy, also hire therpist
    come to home to play with the kid, (piano, music, play ball. bicycle……)
    they bring the kid to the public place all the time, so they play outside before people, not styaing home,
    they told us , they need to break the wall of the austim kid. so do not hide the kid at home, bring them out , and open up through the playing.
    i could tell the kid improve a lot ,a lot. parent need to open up first,
    i am glad Sunny did, as my neighbors.

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