Keep long-term interests of special needs kids in mind

11 August 2016

I agree with the Ministry of Education that we should not rush into making
special needs education compulsory at this stage ("Why no compulsory
education yet"; July 31).

By all means, offer free quality education to all children with special
needs. However, don't take away the option to choose something more
suitable, and don't force children (especially those with autism) into an
environment they are not yet prepared to handle.

Children with autism are handicapped in their social skills; they have to be
properly prepared to be able to have meaningful social interaction with
mainstream peers.

Ignoring this issue will not only create severe stress for these children,
but also reinforce any negative perceptions from their mainstream peers.

The mainstream educational system is least able to serve children with
special needs. If parents can offer a better option such as homeschooling,
we should empower them to take that initiative. In fact, we should consider
giving teacher training to these parents so that they can continue
supporting their children after school hours.

Rather than promoting inclusiveness and homogeneity at all costs, we should
focus on helping special needs children develop employable skills while
pursuing their interests, so they can lead dignified lives as adults.

When others see that those with special needs are also making important
contributions to our society, they will naturally develop respect and
acceptance.

Let us keep the long-term interests of special needs children in mind,
rather than focus on political correctness or short-term victories.

Let us envision happy adults working together to make our society a better
place, instead of just children mixing freely with one another in school.

Dino Trakakis
Director
Autism Recovery Network

For original article, read more at Singapore Straits Times: Keep long-term interests of special needs kids in mind

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