Newsletter Vol. 25 Issue 2 (March – April 2021)
ARTICLE BY METTA VOLUNTEER BINITA CHAUBEY AND EDITED BY JASMINE ONG
Autism comes from ‘autos’, the Greek word for ‘self’, and a person on the autism spectrum is often referred to as someone who lives in a world of his own. In children, some of the typical traits of autism include difficulty in social interaction with others, need for sameness (e.g., playing with the same toy), unusually strong sensory reactions (i.e.to one or more of their five senses), or emotional reactions, repetitive body movements etc. The United Nations (UN) has internationally commemorated World Autism Awareness Day on the 2nd of April every year to raise awareness about autism and recognize and support various programmes conducted by its member states.
Early detection and redressal of autism and related disorders are of high importance as children get shaped up at this very young age. The learning curve for preschoolers with autism is different from their peers. These children need special attention & support to address their social, physical, intellectual development and curriculum education. At Metta Preschool @Punggol, we take holistic care of these children and work with their families to address their special needs with the objective of bringing them to the mainstream & leading a normal healthy life.
Dylan exhibits stimming by constantly spinning his toy car’s wheels and displaying a lack of functional play, both of which are symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Dylan Koh, Raphael Wong, and Long Ji Rui are preschoolers with Metta Preschool @Punggol who are diagnosed with autism at an early age. Among the three, both Dylan and Raphael are SG50 babies. While some preschoolers go on with the traditional educational curriculum, Dylan and Raphael’s parents faced the uphill challenge of acceptance and concerns with their child’s academic pathway.
DYLAN’S LEARNING JOURNEY
As Dylan was growing up, his parents noticed behavioural traits in him, such as speech delay, difficulty in social interaction, and Dylan’s inability to take instructions. After a formal diagnosis at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in 2018, Dylan was enrolled in Metta Preschool @Punggol the following year. Since then, Metta Preschool’s teachers have worked tirelessly on Dylan and adopted various teaching strategies such as Structured Teaching, Picture Communication Exchanges System, including personalizing his intervention plans. A therapist was also appointed to help Dylan to improve upon himself. As of today, Dylan has started to understand instructions from his teachers and responds well to day-to-day instructions with improved attention and focus. Says Michelle, Dylan’s teacher, “We are very hopeful that Dylan would be able to apply the strategies and be able to be independent with skills learnt at our preschool and cope very well with later phases of his life, as he continues to show improvement.”
Raphael performing a circuit of OT exercises with the assistance of Senior OT, Heidi Mosqueriola, as part of the therapy to observe routine in his daily life.
EIPIC TRAINING FOR RAPHAEL
Like Dylan, Raphael was referred to KK Hospital for his delayed speech, communication and comprehension difficulties. As a result, Raphael was recommended to attend EIPIC (Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children) Program with Metta Preschool. Among Raphael’s training, the teachers also worked with his parents on various home-based strategies, such as having a workstation with photos of suggested tasks during the national Circuit Breaker period in 2020. Substantial improvements were observed in Raphael from improved communication, adaptive abilities, alongside enhanced gross motor skills (e.g., activities such as walking, running, sitting etc.) and fine motor skills (e.g., clasping objects, writing, drawing etc.).
EARLY INTERVENTION, BRIGHTER FUTURE
Long Ji Rui is another student who had benefitted from Metta Preschool’s EIPIC programme. Ji Rui was diagnosed with autism at the tender age of 2 ½ years old through behaviours that he displayed to his parents and teachers. Among the challenges faced by children with autism is the difficulty in communication and expressing their thoughts. Social interaction is also an area of deficit for Ji Rui. Through a series of carefully planned differentiated activities and individualized visual supports, Metta Preschool’s teachers devised fun and engaging games for Ji Rui to develop his interest in communication with others and open himself to express his emotions and needs more freely. Ji Rui proved to be a fast learner. He communicates well and is also able to follow instructions apart from
showing improvements in his motor skills. At his progress, his teachers are working hard to equip him with skills to be more communicative and interactive in social environments. Ji Rui is expected to be comfortable with social interactions very soon and become part of the mainstream education system.
It has been a very fulfilling journey for Metta to help these young children cope with their difficulties in their formative years and gradually help these young children to learn skills to be successful in their formative years and beyond.. With these early interventions and specially curated programmes, we firmly believe this will undoubtedly help create a better future for children with special needs because no one should be left behind.
Love Hope Accept - Autism Awareness
A Growing Problem
One in 150 children here has autism, a higher rate than the World Health Organisation’s global figure of one in 160 children.
You Can Help Us To Help Them
At Metta Preschool @Punggol, we take holistic care of these children and work with their families to address their special needs with the objective of bringing them to the mainstream & leading a normal healthy life. This fundraising campaign aims to raise sufficient resources to fund the individualised early intervention programmes and services to these children.