We are honoured to have our first batch of columnists to join us this March.
Our columnists write with much personal insights gained from their experience as persons with special needs or as caregivers. They contribute articles that help to build awareness of local developments in the special needs sector and very often, provide a voice for the diagnosis group they represent or advocate for.
Please welcome C E Tham, Sim Kang Wei, Dowin Lee and Charmaine Lee and Lawrence Ng.
Be sure to send them a note of encouragement for their generous sharing.
Part-time office worker and full-time parent who does night parenting shifts with wife on weekdays and full-day parenting shifts on weekends and is barely alive by eleven every night because of two effervescent boys whose favourite hobby is to redesign their bedroom at least once a day.
C E Tham received architectural education from the National University of Singapore and University College London, and spends his time reading, writing, and entertaining his boys.
Together with his wife, and through blogging and social media, they hope to share about their parenting journey with their older boy Joel and his younger brother Amos, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth.
Charmaine is a parent of a child with Autism. She knows first-hand how lost and confusing it was when faced with the news that her child has Autism. Because of RDI®, she is now filled with hope for her son’s future. She has a close connection with her child and it gives her great joy every time he makes new strides in the missing pieces of his social and communication development. She made a career switch to become a RDI consultant so that she can share her experience and help empower other parents in similar situation. She feels strongly that parents can make the biggest difference to their child and is excited to help them unlock the potential in their child.
Charmaine Lee is a RDI® certified consultant. She coaches parents so that they can understand and guide their children with Autism. In the RDI® curriculum, parents are empowered to teach their children social, communication skills, and dynamic thinking. This guiding is crucial in helping the child grow, develop and overcome Autism.
Certified Relationship Development Intervention Consultant
Master of accounting, February 2004 from Curtin University of Technology
B.S. in Finance and Management, June 1995 from University of Oregon
Dowin Lee is a full time mum to 5 year old Hazel who has West Syndrome.
A mum who laughs alongside with her girl, and hold her tears back when she cries.
A mum who holds her daughter's little hands and says words of praises everyday.
A mum who holds that strong faith and
fight this battle on no matter how tough the journey may seem.
A mum who always hopes for a better tomorrow.
Kang Wei was born with Cerebral Palsy. Growing up, he was seized with a singular question: what is the fundamental purpose of (his) life? Throughout his childhood, Kang Wei learnt to build up a resilient spirit whilst finding his footing on a challenging life path. In that process, he discovered that his purpose in life is to be an inspiration to others in need, encouraging them to rise above challenges, be happy and live their dreams.
Kang Wei spent his early childhood at AWWA Special School. At age 8, he was found suitable to enrol in a mainstream primary school. It was a difficult transition. He lacked social skills and struggled with school in general because of his disability. His schoolmates viewed him through a different lens, some positively, some negatively and were either over-protective or alienating. His teachers, however, were supportive and strove hard to make him a part of the school community.
These early experiences created an intense hunger in Kang Wei to challenge the stereotypes held of the disabled, in particular, that people had to ‘give in’ to the disabled out of a false sense of pity. He took up leadership roles in primary and secondary schools and gradually won the trust and support of his teachers and peers. Though initially fearful of his increased responsibilities, he learnt to embrace them and integrate himself in an abled environment. His spirit of resilience and perseverance was an inspiration to his peers at school.
When he transited to Millennia Institute where he underwent post secondary education, he had none of his previous school friends and no social support system to fall back on. Instead, he had to build new relationships from scratch, cope with physical limitations in a new school environment and manage the expectations of his parents. His parents were not supportive of his decision to do a pre-university course and this disapproval almost made him withdraw from school altogether. But his teachers' support convinced him to stay, complete his course and perservere. His achievements further developed his self belief which eventually led him to graduate with a Degree in Counselling at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). Kang Wei hopes to reach out to others and honour all those who have helped him be where he is today. Kang Wei was a counsellor intern with the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association and St Hilda's Secondary School.
Active in community outreach, Kang Wei participated in a Handcycling race in 2009 which opened doors for him. At many charity races, he was invited to give hope to other less fortunate individuals, to encourage them to dream. He was subsequently invited on Channel U’s Let's Talk 你在囧什么 Season 5 to share his life journey. He continued to conduct motivational talks on various topics, including bullying, spirit of volunteerism and ways of empowering children with special needs.
In 2013, Kang Wei was among 5 awardees of the Stars of SHINE Youth Award. The Stars of SHINE Award seeks to highlight and profile youth role models as a source of encouragement and inspiration to other youths and recognises outstanding youths for their contributions to the community. Since its inaugural award in 2007, Stars of SHINE has recognised 27 youths for their inspirational life stories and contributions to society. Kang Wei is gaining training as a professional counsellor and believes in the power of creating value by empowering others to discover their own inner gifts and to find happiness.
As the Buddhist peace thinker, Daisaku Ikeda, once said, “Courage is the driving force of our lives…that challenges can be turned into energy for our happiness, into fuel for advancement.”
My name is Lawrence. I am married and have a son who has the amazing gift of autism! My boy, Kai is now in Pathlight School, an autism specific school. Kai received his diagnosis about the age of 3 and half years old. What triggered the need to diagnose? Well, at about 3, my boy was becoming increasingly already challenging to manage. With severe speech delay, poor eye contact, underdeveloped social skills, long unexplainable tantrums and aggressive outbursts, Kai was seriously not assimilating into expected school behaviours. Thinking he was a strong-willed wild horse, I tightened discipline with the resolve to 'break his will'. Setting boundaries. Dishing out consequences. Reward and privileges. Spanking. Abuse. (oops!) Nothing worked for long. Long story short, my negative behaviours drove a rift in our marriage and sent the family spiralling downward. It reached crisis point. Divorce was on the table. Finally we took him to a child psychologist and occupational therapist for diagnosis and our worst fear was confirmed - autism! Our world crumbled. That is the start of us finding our way into the special needs community, progressively identifying with thousands of families who have child(ren) with a variety of challenging needs, as a result of neurological or physical conditions, or both. As a writer here, I hope to share, ramble, listen, take questions. Simply open the pandora box and have fun. I welcome your critique, feedback and questions.
Read more about Lawrence in this news article.