“I hope more corporate companies can be more open to identifying special needs adults who can be employed. Many may find the task of filing mundane. Get my children to do your filing! It’s a routine task, so they would be able to take it on. Maybe even as someone who provides tea or works in the pantry, they too can employ our children. I have approached a few places nearby, asking if they are keen on employing my kids for part-time jobs. I don’t always get a positive response. I think acceptance and awareness is not as present. Companies do go all out to help and sponsor. We take our kids out to the cinema, and they are more than willing to dim the lights, lower the volume, give us free popcorn and drinks. But to get companies to employ them to work, they are not as inclined yet.
We can’t blame them, because they too need to be educated. Education should start from schools itself. Instead of putting all those who are special needs in one class, an inclusion programme could be better suited. If the foundation is not right, the building cannot be built.
There is a lot of knowledge in IT, and I hope that knowledge can be used to develop applications that can aid our kids in better communication. For example if a child is non-verbal, they can use their gadget to voice activate what they want to say. A child would then be able to get around on their own. Many parents worry about letting their special needs child go out on their own because they are worried they are unable to communicate. We feel the need to chaperone.
For schools, teachers, we are all still learning continuously. All the teachers, including me, are still learning. There’s no end to it. It has to be hands-on, catered to each child’s specific need. I can have a syllabus, but I must be flexible.
For us as the public, when we see a kid throwing a tantrum, shouting, going under the table – don’t stare at them. It makes the parents feel sad, and they feel lost. Some parents walk out because they can’t take it. Nowadays parents are getting bolder, but there are many others who are still in denial. A meltdown happens sometimes. When it happens, we can’t be blaming anyone. It’s a matter of all of us working together.
Two weeks ago, I saw a young boy who was on the floor throwing a tantrum. The mother was so lost, everyone was walking past and staring at both of them. I decided to approach them. I stroked the child, talked to him a bit. He calmed down eventually, and I helped him to the mother’s car. I told her to not give in his tantrums. We must be firm too.
If someone knows what to do, do help. One time I was out and I was with one of my students who really likes to open packets. He escaped from me and ran into the supermarket. I was screaming at the top of my voice, running after him, asking for someone to catch hold of him. No one intervened except for one white man who helped to grab him. Thankfully he didn’t manage to tear any packets otherwise we would have to pay for it all. People tend to have the mentality that “this is not my problem.”
I encourage our young people to be more aware. We must take the initiative to be educated.”
Photostory and edited by Win Li