It takes someone special to take care of a special person…

I read a news article today on how in 2019, a mother sank deep into depression and resorted to killing her son and took her own life after she committed the deed. It made me really upset and wonder, why must it end this way?

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
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In all honesty, who are we to judge a caregiver who has been through a lot caring for a special person, be it a special child or a special adult? Caring and support for the caregiver is also as important as caring for the person with special needs. Caregivers need to know that there are more people around who will be there to support them and share their concerns. There are success stories, there are inspiring role models for parents and caregivers too.

We are proud to share such an inspiring story here. Darrasa is heartened to share this inspiring story with everyone.

Mdm Magdalene Ong, mother of a son with autism, founded Singapore Special Voices and Singapore Special Community to reach out to other parents and children with special needs through dancing, singing and music playing. She shares with parents and caregivers how to manage and care for children with special needs and she overcame a lot of challenges to make her son, Chalmers Wong, the person he is today.

SpecialThots.com

Chalmers Wong, 16 years old, has his own online art gallery (SpecialThots.com) and was a winner of Goh Chok Tong Enable Award in 2019. Click on the link above to see Chalmers’ art gallery. Listed below is his story, as told by Mdm Magdalene, to be shared with other parents so that they are able to hear the struggles and journey undertaken by Mdm Magdalene and Chalmers.

Though the journey may not be easy, and the struggles can be daunting, with understanding, care and kindness, the walk in this life will be much easier; especially when you know that you are not walking alone.

To all parents and caregivers of children and people with special needs, please know that there are support groups and organizations like Darrasa and Singapore Special Community who are always ready to listen and support you. You are chosen because you are special and walk on, with your head held high.

We would like to express our thanks to Mdm Magdalene and Chalmers for letting us share their journey. They are an inspiration to all of us.

We would also like to hear more stories from other parents and caregivers too. Contact us directly so we may reach out to you. We are stronger when we are together and when we support each other.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder. Individuals with ASD usually display impairments in the triad of social interaction, social communication and restricted behaviour, interests and activities. There are other diagnoses that are similar to, and classified in the spectrum of Autism, such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Diagnosis of ASD is just a label. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

iceberg
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Individuals with ASD have more than the triad of impairment; they may experience sensory issues, language development issues, health & growth issues and even muscle tone issues. They avoid eye contact or give minimal eye contact when talking to others, some may not be able to talk and rely on alternative communication devices to ‘talk’ to others. They prefer to be alone as they have trouble understanding cues and norms of socialising (they have impairment in social communication and interaction, remember?) They may avoid loud noises, crowded spaces as the sounds may be unbearable and change in routines are not appreciated, especially if they are not made aware of the changes.

Individuals with ASD have strengths too. Their keen &acute senses may make them talented in their respective areas. People with autism who are highly talented are referred to as ‘savants’. There are savants who are able to remember names, numbers and key details at a glance, able to draw a whole city from just one look, and also become musical prodigies. Since people with ASD are excellent with keeping to details and being consistent, they make good candidates to become chefs, baristas, quality controllers and other jobs that require precision and consistency.

But not all children with autism will automatically grow up to be savants. A lot of hard work, intervention and mediation of skills, soft and hard, needs to be taught to the child with autism as they are not able to learn or pick things up as fast as a typical child. This is not to say that they are in any way less able or inferior, this is just to highlight that they learn and need exposure to learning differently.

What I have written here, is by no means the full picture of autism. It is just a small tip of the ‘iceberg’. There are a lot more information that can be shared and I am more than happy to have readers put in comments and share in this blog. Darrasa is here to learn too.

Till then!

Giving & Receiving

In this current COVID-19 climate, the workforce and economic situation is depressing for some families. Job losses, income losses, uncertainty over where the next income is coming from but knowing that the expenses are mounting day-by-day. This is especially worrying for families who have members that need extra care and support, medically or academically.

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography
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I like this saying, “Dalam rezeki kata, ada juga rezeki orang lain” which means ‘in our sustenance, there is sustenance for others’. Sustenance is a blessing, people relates income to sustenance; hence they associate sustenance to income.

But are you aware that health is a blessing, wealth is a blessing, having free time is a blessing, education is a blessing, knowledge is a blessing and family is a blessing too? We receive these blessings and we can give these blessing to others too.

When we are blessed with the financial means to help others, we could donate it or spend on others to help out. With our knowledge and education, we can share it by teaching others and guiding them to promote independence and empowerment. When we have the free time, it could be put to good use by volunteering our services for good causes, utilising our good health and time for benefit of others. In Islam, Muslims believe that by giving alms and donations to help others, the act of faith will be able to purify their wealth and income that has been blessed upon them. Christians believe in helping and supporting fellow worshippers and Buddhists believe that good karma will come to those who help others.

Are you someone who believes in helping and giving to others too? Go on to Darrasa’s homepage to see how you can benefit and help the community today!

Different? Unique?

There is an increased level of awareness for people with special needs in Singapore nowadays. This is definitely good for all of us, especially for our children and the next generations. Good in the sense that there could be an increased level of self-awareness, an increased level of understanding from the general public and an increased demand for greater research and support for these special needs sector. But is it really all good now?

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It has been noted that in society, the unique and different tends to be frowned upon first. Society prefers conformity and it is arguable that humans prefer to have a sense of norm for them to function properly. Even the most dysfunctional person has a norm – it is their constant dysfunction! If you place a break in their routine or norm – for example a purposeful, functional and consistent routine in a dysfunctional person’s life – they will struggle. The same can be said to those who conform to norms and functional behaviour too. If they have a blip from their norms, they will struggle.

Life is a daily challenge for everyone who is alive. All of us are unique and different in our own ways. Some of us have diagnosis, placed upon us for us to get the help we need, some don’t. Some will prefer toast bread for breakfast, some prefer noodles. Some are gifted in some areas, some need help. All of us are different. All of us are unique.

I will be writing some entries to talk about some commonly known traits and causes of what people call ‘disorders’ from the common ‘order’ in the next few entries. I will write about Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Developmental Delay, Language delays and impairment, Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dysphasia, Down syndrome and others.

Do follow and read our blog and I welcome comments too! If you have a question about other diagnoses or you would like me to talk more about a certain topic, then you can just write a comment under this blog or send an email to admin@darrasa.org so that we can have a look and respond to you.

Till next time!

People around Us

Good morning! I am intrigued by the sharing of a few paragraphs in a book by a friend this morning. I could not help but think, “How appropriate!”

woman falling in line holding each other
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The writer wrote in one of the paragraphs about how people surround themselves with others who either elevates them or brings them down. These people around an individual will help a person be the better version of themselves or a lesser version of themselves. Now, let’s take a look at where we are at right now. Who are we surrounding ourselves with? People who are positive? People who give feedback and show solutions or ideas to improve ourselves? Or are we with people who are constantly whining and moaning and criticising without providing solutions?

The paragraph also stated, “No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help to make them great.”

I really love this sharing because it helps me to keep myself in check. Who am I surrounding myself with? Am I one of the people who helps and lifts others up?

BE POSITIVE. Be around positive people. Feed off the energy and feel-good vibes around people who truly cares and values what you believe in. Help others be great and be the change that you want to feel.

Till the next sharing everyone!

Social Mobility

The term social mobility refers to movement by an individual or a family unit, up the ladder of a social class. According to Cambridge’s online dictionary definition, social mobility means ‘the ability to move from one level of society to another’.

What does it take for a person and a family to attain social mobility?

person rock climbing
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Knowledge, opportunity and timing.

With the presence of knowledge and information, the individual will be able to meet the challenges and questions of life in a confident, prepared manner. When the opportunity arises for the individual, he needs to be aware of the opportunity and grasp it with both hands. Sometimes, the individual have to be ready, confident and wait for the right timing to climb up the social ladder.

Darrasa is here, willing to help individuals and families climb up the social ladder. Are you ready and willing to take this opportunity?

Learning for All

We are proud to see that our strategies in working with our students have all been successful; whether they are gearing towards excellence or learning individual goals for holistic development.

Every child deserves to be taught in the way he or she learns best. According to Gardner, everyone have different traits in terms of their intelligence. They have the capacity to be intelligent in their own way. We agree. Therefore it is the job of the teacher, the educator, to understand how the student learns and operates best to assimilate new learning; which in turn makes the teaching and learning experience fun!

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