Let talents lead when teaching kids with autism

Academic achievement and life skills seem to be emphasised when educating children with autism ("Day centre in Clementi for adults with autism"; Jan 8).

Perhaps the objective is to reduce the burden on caregivers: The children are preoccupied with academic studies, so they don't get into trouble. They also learn basic skills to take care of themselves when their caregivers are away.

But such a short-term defensive strategy also limits their potential; the stories of adults with autism who have graduated at the top of their class only to remain unemployed should serve as a warning.

Parents should consider the future employment needs of their children, and guide them to learn skills suitable to their interest and abilities as early as possible.

The goal is not to obtain paper qualifications, but to create a sustainable independent life with a well-paying job or a profitable business.

Practical marketable skills driven by these people's talents, not lofty paper qualifications, are the best answer for their long-term welfare.

After all, when they are earning good pay, they can always hire someone to do all the housework for them.

Dino Trakakis

Founder

Autism Recovery Network (Singapore)