Celebrating 16 years of commitment to the autism community this year, let’s take a closer look at the SAAC impact on the lives of those we serve.
The End Caps Assembly Project began in a relatively humble manner in 2016.
By April 2019, about two and a half years after it first began, the project had grown significantly with 10 classes of SAAS students and several classes of Day Activity Centre (Siglap) [DAC (Siglap)] clients assembling 44,000 end caps and 86,000 top and bottom pads!
Dressed in black from head to toe, with dark shades covering his eyes and a black ear piece, almost inconspicuously, placed in this ears, he may appear menacing.
The lead character from a new Men in Black sequel or a local spin-off of Vincenzo? Neither.
Meet Henry, the father of a 28-year-old autistic resident at St. Andrew’s Adult Home (Sengkang) [SAAH].
Unlike most schools in Singapore, two teaching staff at St. Andrew’s Autism School would lead a small class size of six students. For about four and a half hours daily, during school terms, our teachers deliver the customised curriculum, helping our students develop functional, independent and daily living skills, nurturing each one holistically as our students focus on learning and growing.
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.
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].
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.
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).
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.
“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.
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.
Ms Gloria Yzelman is St. Andrew’s Autism School’s Programme Lead for students aged nine to 12 year old. This year, Gloria was recognised for her work in special education when she was named a recipient of both the MOE-NCSS Outstanding SPED Teacher Award and the MOE Masters Scholarship in Special Education.