An award winning interpreter and campaigner who has made it her mission to change the perception of autism among the Chinese community has again been recognised for her achievements.
Hazel Lim, a mother of three living in Swansea, received the Community Champion Award as well as the overall title of Womenspire Champion 2020 having impressed the judges with her warmth and unwavering commitment to her cause.
Born and raised in Malaysia and of Malaysian-Chinese heritage, Hazel had moved to London and been working as an interpreter for 15 years when her eldest son was diagnosed with autism in 2015. Eager to support him as much as possible, she moved with her husband and three children to Swansea so that she was able to study for an MSc in Autism and related Conditions at the Swansea University.
Having decided to make a permanent home in the city, Hazel founded the Chinese Autism Support Group, when she realised there was no support available – even nationally – for Chinese families managing with the condition.
Since then she has worked tirelessly to engage with Chinese families who have autistic children, who were almost hiding themselves away due to the language barriers and the cultural stigma associated with autism.
Her impact has been significant to both her local community and those trying to understand autism in the Chinese cultural context all over the world. In 2019, Hazel produced the first English and Chinese Bilingual Autism booklet in the UK. It provided professionals with an introductory understanding of the many cultural barriers, in order to more effectively assist them to support their Chinese clients. The booklet has had a major impact – shared internationally, and is now a vital resource for Autistic Chinese communities.
Hazel’s work has led to her becoming a finalist in the UK Autism Hero Awards and a winner of the ‘someone who changed my life’ trophy at the National Autistic Society’s Autism Professionals Awards 2020.