Forum: Let's have some empathy for special needs children

Ms Amy Loh Chee Seen's suggestion that children with special needs wear an easily identifiable item in public is well-intentioned (Should there be a way to identify special needs kids?, Feb 18). She assumes that people would be more courteous and tolerant towards the child.

Unfortunately, making someone easily identifiable could be a double-edged sword and instead magnify unwanted attention.

Children with special needs deserve to be accorded the same respect given to everyone else.

Often, we fail to respect people for their idiosyncratic behaviour in public because we want people to conform to our expectations.

Empathy enables us to avoid doing that by letting us see things from the other person's perspective, whereas sympathy will make us feel only pity but not necessarily respect.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

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