Our Unsung Heroes – Enabling Autistic Adults to Live with Dignity

Coaches at our Day Activity Centres (DACs) spend six hours each day, five days a week, working closely with clients with moderate to severe autism. Being a DAC coach is an intensely engaging role. Beyond the requisite knowledge and skills, the ability to read situations. react quickly and respond appropriately is a daily reality for which a lot of understanding, patience and creativity are needed. And not forgetting that the role can be physically demanding too.
Let’s meet two of our coaches and find out why they choose to work with adults on the autism spectrum.

Our Unsung Heroes – Guardian Angels of SAAH

Twenty-five individuals from different towns in Mizoram, Northeastern India, left their hometown in pursuit of a common goal – better lives and job opportunities – in a country they have never been before. That was in 2019.

Two years later, these individuals have grown and changed in more ways than one. From acclimatising to the culture, to overcoming challenges in caring for autistic individuals with varying behavioural issues, they have had their fair share of ups and downs.

Let’s meet Sety and Omomi, two of our care staff from a team comprising persevering individuals who are dedicated to nurturing and caring for our residents at St. Andrew’s Adult Home (Sengkang) [SAAH].

Living with Autism – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Ze Liang has progressed significantly since he first started attending Day Activity Centre (Siglap) [DAC (Siglap)] in November 2007. He used to be extremely rigid, reacting physically if there were changes to his routine, and refused to eat all but limited types of food.

Ze Liang’s story also illustrates a fact about autism – it is not temporary but lasts a lifetime.

IF ONLY I COULD

She observed the routines and movements of the staff, as she planned and waited patiently to execute her escape plan. Then unnoticed, she stole a staff uniform, dressed in it and duped the security guards as she made her way out of the secure facility. Natasha Romanov in a scene from the yet-to-be released Black Widow movie?

But this is not from a movie plot nor is it even fictional. This is true account of an adult on the autism spectrum who was then temporarily warded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

IN MEMORIAM

When the late Dr NK Yong walked into a room, it lit up. His quiet warmth and stately presence, felt. It was our honour at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) to have made his acquaintance, and our privilege to have been deeply touched by his giving.

Journey In A Lifespan

A roly-poly figure with bristly hair sat at his work desk quietly, working on his favourite activity set. He had a task to complete: to arrange and match various food products into their respective categories. A while later, he pushed his chair backwards, held a piece of the puzzle and walked to the nurses’ station.

Journey In A Lifespan

“Looks like we’re not able to head out again today,” Coach Eve said to her teammates as she watched Xuan meltdown by slamming himself. This time, in reaction to the heat. Guiding Xuan back to the air-conditioned classroom, she had encouraged him to work on another activity, but with little success as Xuan had started becoming fixated on arranging the visual cues on his table.

Journey In A Lifespan

He reached for her hand. That sudden touch on the arm was not something Teacher Visa had expected. She turned around, and saw that it was Xuan. Some unintelligible sounds were made. The 18-year-old youth on the autism spectrum who was non-speaking, was trying to initiate communication. It was unusual.

In My Shoes

Imagine that you are a non-speaking person with autism. Imagine what your day and reality is like. Imagine what it would be like to be supported to have a community rallying around you. That is what we are doing at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC).