Forum: Pool resources to help those with autism thrive in the new normal

Raising a child with special needs is challenging. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, this challenge is compounded - children with autism find a sense of stability in routine and changes often leave them struggling to adapt.

When children with autism who are used to following school regimes are asked to study at home, few may be able to adapt to the new routines. Frustration and anger can arise.

And post-Covid-19, there may be more challenges to their future.

The Government has been emphasising the need for upskilling and job retraining. But for a segment of our community that inherently finds it more difficult to adapt to change, it may be harder for them to accept the new normal.

When I was interning at a special education school, the teachers there told me that employment remains a significant challenge for those with autism when they graduate.

Their education mostly remains centred on technical skills that they can master over time - training for jobs that are routinised. This is one group that may be left behind as changes to the economy lead to the need for skills upgrading.

Support from parents, teachers and the Government is imperative for children with special needs. Different stakeholders must pool resources to provide sufficient attention and support to help people with special needs flourish.

By being more open to them and understanding their struggles, employers can be more accepting of those with special needs and consider giving them a chance, even as the world changes.

With the Government supporting the growth of new enterprises post-Covid-19 and with schemes in place to support undergraduates and mature workers, perhaps employers could also remember the special needs community and work towards ensuring meaningful employment for them.

Hannah Ferng Hai Ning

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