Growing up, I studied in top schools in Singapore, competed with really smart people who placed a premium on their education and academics, and excelled in sports. Out of school, my first work experience was starting a tuition centre. That was where I first realized that not everyone was like the people I grew up with - I came across students who worked part-time in order to make ends meet (this is not very common in Singapore), as well as students who came from broken families. They didn’t place much emphasis on doing well in school, but I could empathize with their situations. The ones I struggled to understand however, were students who lacked the belief that they were able to learn. It took me some time to accept, understand and attempt to help change that belief. But I failed in most cases since I spent only about 2-3 hours a week with these students, who more often than not, were probably forced by their parents to attend tuition classes outside of school.
Then I joined T.Ware. I got the chance to engage with the children and parents of the special needs community and learnt about Autism, ADHD and people with mild intellectual disability. I started to understand the work put in by therapists and teachers - all the love and patience from them really astounds me. The way they care for their clients and students, the way they want the best for them, the way they accept their differences, and understand and love them for who they are. I salute you.
These children will become adults who will still be likely to have issues that we will always struggle to understand. But don’t we all have issues some way or another? They are different, but then again, aren’t we all different in some way or another? By accepting the premise that everyone is different, all we can do is to understand, learn and love. It is tough, no doubt. Just like how a husband tries to understand his wife, how a girlfriend tries to understand her boyfriend, it’s tough. But when you put in effort, something wonderful happens.
To parents who have a child that’s special, it’s going to be tough. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, helpless, frustrated, like no one understands you. Take a deep breath and stay strong. Read and learn about your child, understand your child, communicate with your child, communicate with your child’s teachers and therapists – this is the way to give your child the best learning platform to fulfil his/her potential and be independent.