Up to parents to secure best future for special needs kids

A father recently took to Facebook to lament how he could not get his autistic son into a special education school despite having waited two years.

We understand and feel his frustration and pain, and empathise with his plight.

Cases like this, together with the growing number of children being born with development disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, raise the question of whether the Government can cope with the influx of children with moderate to severe special needs when they come under the Compulsory Education Act from 2019.

It would be a wrong and miscalculated move to treat all these children, with their disparate needs and talents, uniformly. Autism alone involves a spectrum of very slight to moderate and severe cases.

Even if the Government commits greater resources to building and expanding schools, it will always be falling behind in training the necessary teachers and special education staff.

Therefore, it is up to the parents to take charge of their children's future.

In the case of autism, parents need to be proactive even before the start of compulsory formal schooling.

Intervention programmes are most effective before the age of two. Parents need to make better choices and choose scientifically proven methods and stick to them so that their children can have the best chance of developing equally as, or even better than, their non-autistic peers.

Dino Trakakis

Director

Autism Recovery Network (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Up to parents to secure best future for special needs kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe