Give those with autism chance to serve NS

National service recruits training at the Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong, on Feb 27, 2018.
National service recruits training at the Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong, on Feb 27, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many autistic individuals are not given the opportunity to serve national service, even in non-combat vocations (NS vital as new threats emerge: President; Dec 16, 2018).

When they seek employment later in life, their exemption from NS raises red flags among potential employers and severely compromises their ability to secure employment.

Autistic individuals who possess suitable intellectual ability should be allowed to serve a modified version of NS.

Let them spend their first year at an employment boot camp, where they receive training on how to work with other people in various job and work settings.

This will focus on work attitudes, social skills and other issues hindering them from being meaningfully employed.

This training will allow them to then spend the second year serving in the SAF in a non-combat vocation.

There is much that people with autism can do to contribute to the nation. We should try to find a win-win solution that allows them to contribute while also reducing their future unemployment rate.

Dino Trakakis

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Give those with autism chance to serve NS'. Print Edition | Subscribe