Strengthening Families Washington 2016 Unsung Hero QiuLian Lai
2016 Unsung Hero QiuLian Lai
February 23, 2016
Honoree: QiuLian Lai, Seattle
Nominator: Peggy Kwok
QiuLian moved to the US two years ago. She was filled with joy and excitement at first. As she tried to adapt to the new environment with limited language skills, minimal family support, struggles slowly surfaced.
Her older son is with selective mutism due to QiuLian’s lack of presence in his early childhood. Her younger son had developmental delays which later turned out to be autism. QiuLian’s in-laws were embarrassed by their grandchildren because of their cultural belief that QiuLian’s bad luck gave birth to “sick” kids. Although QiuLian was devastated, she was so courageous to face reality. She felt hopeful things would get better.
She quickly found a job and learned English. She actively engaged in workshops and activities to learn ways to support her kids. She strongly advocates for her kids’ multiple and significant needs in many settings. Her effort changes how Chinese think about autism and selective mutism, empowers anyone who encounters her kids with understanding to embrace them and other children of special needs with appreciation, love and respect.
There were many times she thought about giving up but through her persistence, she managed to be strong again. Through her strength and resilience, her sons greatly improved socially and behaviorally. Her in-laws changed their attitude and accepted their grandchildren as who they are.
QiuLian is not just a mother who nurtures, she is also a warrior who defends, empowers and overcomes cultural barriers. She shows us strength and resilience like no one else.