More inclusiveness, transparency needed in some special schools

Many things must still be done to improve the situation of autistic children in Singapore (“As bosses come around, more disabled people get to taste the dignity of labour”, May 9).

For example, special schools must be more inclusive, rather than selecting autistic children based on IQ tests.

This seems to advocate an elitist mentality whereby only the “smarter” ones qualify to attend certain schools catering for autistic children.

However, IQ tests should not be the way to assess autistic children.

That children are diagnosed as autistic means that their intellectual development might be delayed, and screening them out goes against the purpose of an autistic school in the first place: To educate and allow them to develop their intellectual abilities.

We do not screen “normal” children entering Primary One, so why are autistic children denied the chance to learn in an environment meant for them?

Furthermore, there is a lack of transparency in some special schools, those that do not share their training programmes adequately with concerned parents.

Unlike other children, who can update their parents on how their day or classes went, some autistic children are unable to do so. How will parents know whether their children are provided adequate therapy sessions or treated properly?

And is the issue of manpower shortage really because of a lack of interested special-needs teachers? It could be a human resource issue, whereby teachers are not compensated fairly, leading them to join expensive private special schools.

But what would a parent do if he is unable to afford the school fees?

Many autistic children have little means to express their feelings.

Those of us who are privileged to have a voice and are able to help should use it well.

Read original article here: More inclusiveness, transparency needed in some special schools

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