Essentially my wife(Berndette) and myself(Norman) are educators for more than 10 years in Singapore. We have realised from our struggle to help our children that one of us need to focus full time to develop effective and purposeful program that will significantly mould them while it is still possible. My wife has graciously accepted the responsibility of doing whatever we can for our three sons, Joshua(7+), Jonathan(6+) and Joel(5+), who have ASD but to different degrees in the spectrum. While many of you may have just one autistic child, we hope our testimony and sharing would uplift and encourage you to be overcomers in the quest of bringing your special child up. We believe that God has considered us as well as you to be worthy and strong enough to take care of his special ones. We also believe God will Bless all who have greater needs with greater grace to face up to it. We testify that God did so and is still showering grace on our family. Cheer Up! Be Brave!
We realised that the task is quite formidable, but with joint and mutual support of both spouses sharing the load, somehow the journey is not only bearable but also filled with joy and warmth(Remembering honouring our marriage vows!). The joint effort of teaching our children together has not only blessed our children but also built up our bonds towards each other. We do not believe that in just having money, maids or multiple therapy sessions to be appropriate substitutes for bringing up our children. Having joint responsibility and active joint action of both spouses are critical to building strength and stamina to steer the ship to higher levels of achievement in all areas of importance.
My eldest son, Joshua has been diagnosed with mild autism. As such, he is able to attend mainstream primary school. We have looked into his coping workload and have decided with professional support, to seek exemption for his second language examination. This was fulfilled through persistence and unwavering action. It was finally approved by MOE after eigth months of correspondence. He is currently in primary two. In addition, to aid teachers in better understanding his learning needs, we prepared a compilation of all reports, including our personal report to reflect our understanding and insight on how not to misread certain actions and to propose a two-way communication as an avenue for co-operative and mutual help. This report was personally, handed and discussed with both the principal and form teacher, in the hope that the existing document would propagate to other teachers throughout his stay in primary school. In any case, a copy as well as visit will be made to his new form teacher at each new year.
Jonathan, my second son has more severe autism in the spectrum. He is currently attending STEP program in Rainbow Centre.
Joel, my youngest son has generally mild ASD. He is currently attending EIPIC program in Rainbow Centre.
Nevertheless, we are grateful to God that even though Jonathan and Joel may never make it to mainstream school, there is hope to see them equipped with sufficient skills and knowledge to earn an honest living and coping in our society for the rest of their lives. Currently, it gives us great joy to see them enjoying their learning and achieving small success in Rainbow Centre. In fact, the curriculum is more interesting and fun compared to mainstream which my elder son is attending. They in fact, look forward to each day(swimming, cooking, housecraft, art, softplay, PE, individualised education program, speech, occupational, music therapy...). We do not feel that not going to mainstream is hopeless. Rather we subscribe to the view that learning within their ability is more motivating as achievable success breeds better self esteem and reduces unnecessary frustration and tendency to give up and be depressed.