Give young people with special needs a fair chance

Mental wellness advocacy group Silver Ribbon has highlighted the dilemma that applicants with a history of mental illness face when filling in a job application form ("Call to remove mental health query on job forms"; Sept 27).

For those with medical conditions, to not declare them is to be dishonest and to bear the fear and guilt of being found out one day. But to declare them could put applicants at a disadvantage.

My 15-year-old daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was six weeks old. The cause of the condition is inconclusive, but it is kept relatively under control with medication.

Other than having to take medication daily, see her neurologist every three months and be careful with certain activities, she is a very normal child who is smart, enterprising, determined and disciplined.

It will be a few more years before she has to fill in a job application form. But if the forms remain as they are, she will have to indicate on them that she has epilepsy.

How many employers would look past this admission and give her the opportunity to attend an interview and get to know her?

If she is discriminated against merely by this one tick on an application form, what is the point of her studying hard for her O levels, or of us telling her that despite her condition, she can strive to be the best that she can be?

If she is judged by just that one tick, her self-esteem and sense of self-worth will be greatly affected.

As a mother, I hope that my daughter will be given a fair chance and not be curtailed by her medical condition and a simple declaration on her job application.

Let us be a truly inclusive society, not just in talk but also in practice.

Small changes can make a tremendous impact on our young people with special needs.

Let us give them a fair chance to prove themselves. Each of them has something to contribute and show for in their lives.

Liew Yuen Ping (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'Give young people with special needs a fair chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe