Rethink education policy to empower autistic students

People with autism spectrum disorder are often subject to stigma, discrimination and abuse.

We must ask ourselves why, as a First World country, we are still unable to accept and respect autistic people in our midst.

It was disheartening to read that an autistic student, artistic and brilliant in mathematics and the sciences, was denied admission to a local tertiary institution even though overseas universities were eager to have him ("Chum to her son, champ for the autistic"; Feb 19).

We often hear inspiring stories of people on the autism spectrum having greater mental abilities than the average person.

Some are able to perform complicated mathematical calculations, while others have remarkable mental and artistic abilities, spanning a variety of subjects, interests and activities.

Perhaps the Government should rethink its education policy such that there is a proper balance between an autistic student's academic life and his personal development.

The setting up of Pathlight School was a step in the right direction but more can be done to raise awareness and remove stigmas attached to autism.

We have to change our perceptions of achievement, progress and success, and allow people with autism in our society to grow with dignity, inclusion and integration.

We have a lot to learn from them.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Rethink education policy to empower autistic students'. Print Edition | Subscribe