Eight-year-old Aqil Nabil Maulid gave his teacher Hanysah Ismail, 45, a big smile yesterday on his sixth day of school.
The boy, who has autism, was homeschooled last year while waiting for a place in Eden School, which caters specifically to children with autism. Nabil's father, Mr Maulid Mohammad, 34, a sales merchandiser, was disappointed when he found out on Jan 3 that Nabil still could not get a place there this year.
He detailed Nabil's situation in a Facebook post, which was seen by Mr Keh Eng Song, chief executive of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds).
Mr Keh, whose four special needs schools have a total of 300 vacancies, reached out to Mr Maulid, offering Nabil a place at Minds' Woodlands Gardens School as an interim solution.
Across Singapore, there are waiting lists in special education schools catering specifically to those with autism. While the schools declined to say how many are on their lists, The Straits Times understands that children have to wait between six months and two years for a place. In many cases, no guarantee is given that they will ever get a spot.