On behalf of a group of families with children who have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), I thank the Esplanade and Republic Polytechnic's School of Technology for the Arts for organising a gamelan workshop for ASD children last Saturday.
The session far exceeded our expectations, as every care was taken to ensure the special needs of the children were met.
We were very touched by the teams from the Esplanade and Republic Poly, whose thoughtful efforts allowed our children to explore the musical instruments without inhibition and judgment.
The children were relaxed and enjoyed themselves because of the patient guidance and the embracing environment.
This is the kind of inclusion that many parents with special needs children seek; not just any "all are welcome" session, where our children often end up excluded, as they have to jostle with normal children who do not have learning, sensory or socialisation difficulties.
Some of our children cannot follow the mental pace of others, may disrupt activities and/or receive disapproval from members of the public.
Due to such concerns, some of them have never stepped into a communal space, such as a performance venue, a museum or even a library. It is, therefore, very heartening to see the arts scene beginning to open up for the ASD community this year, with a sensory-friendly handbell concert and a children's play taking place in the past few months ("Play with special touches for kids with special needs"; March 9, and "Special show for special needs kids"; Jan 31).
I hope more organisations can offer programmes catering to children and youngsters with special needs, so that they and their families, like everyone else, can explore the arts, nature, sports and other activities.
Swee Bee Lan (Ms)