We remembered walking along the corridors of the school
and read an article on children with autism, pasted
on the wall. I thought to myself, how tough it would
be for the families and parents of such children, little
did I know that one year later, the article became very
much a part of us.
When we first enrolled Ethan into Nanyang Kindergarten
in 2006, he was like any typical children. It was four
months later, through the observations of his dedicated
teacher, Mdm Rosemary Choo, who highlighted her concerns
It is tough bringing up a child with special needs.
When Ethan was diagnosed with mild autism (Asperger
Syndrome) at age four, we immediately went for intensive
private therapy sessions. We know early intervention
programmes can make the biggest impact. The early years
up to age seven are considered critical.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a development disorder.
Autistic people often have problems with social interaction
and communication and may have restricted, repetitive
patterns of behavior, interests and activities.
Ethan is high-functioning, of normal intelligence but
lacks poorly in social skills and is extremely rigid
in his dealings with others. Changes are very tough
for him. Despite all that, my wife and I salute the
teachers, namely Mrs Jenny Ng, Mdm Rosemary Choo, and
his former teachers Mdm Ho Hui Ling, Mdm Lee Jiun Horng
and Mdm Hon Wai Ling, for being kind, patient and understanding
when engaging him.
The Principal, Mrs Lily Foo, was very supportive when
we suggested to bringing in an Educational Therapist
(ET). Recommendations were given by the ET and we collaborated
with Mrs Foo and his teachers to follow through them.
To help Ethan cope better, he was transferred to a
more suitable classroom setting with minimum sensory
challenges. We acknowledged that his teachers put in
a great amount of effort to find ways to communicate
effectively with him.
Ethan belonged to the “blame the child” category because
in many occasions, people do not make an effort to trace
the underlying causes, particularly his role in contributing
to the negative event. However, we are glad to say that
we know he is treated with respect and fairly in Nanyang.
Determined to help Ethan succeed, my wife left her
job in April 2007 to care for him full-time. His teachers
would chat with her almost daily for little updates.
We are very fortunate to be in Nanyang where everybody
In school every day, my wife sees teachers getting
to know the children well, discovering their talents,
identifying their area of interest and nurturing them
with love. These are all steps to helping and guiding
children to success. Being educated in Nanyang is more
than book knowledge, it comes along with many core values.
What is important is not what the children produce but
what they feel.
On separate occasions, two parents, when told about
Ethan's condition, exclaimed that we should have shared
this with them earlier so that they could explain to
their child to be more understanding and patient towards
him. That gave us so much assurance as we know that
there are parents out there who understand our plight.
There is also a mother who taught her son to always
look out for Ethan in school. Knowing that Ethan is
an only child, she initiates to meet regularly so that
the children can play together. Ethan calls this boy
“my best friend”. Although they are no longer in the
same class, we are glad he has a best friend and a buddy
We believe that everyone deserves a place in the society
and we know Nanyang believes in the same. With so much
support given by the school, Ethan's chances of succeeding
in school and in life are brighter than ever.
In real life, we know that special needs children do
not get a second chance. Without good, seamless programmes
and therapy in their youth, they are doomed to a life
lacking independence later on.
We are never ashamed of his strange behaviours, weird
mannerism and temper tantrums. We have learnt to change
our mindset and seek happiness in the “small” improvements
he makes. Today, in addition to his ongoing therapy
sessions, he has one-on-one weekly violin, swimming,
cycling and gymnastics lessons which he enjoys tremendously.
Thank you Nanyang Kindergarten for making
us a part of this big family!
Mr & Mrs Reuben Lee
(Parents of Ethan Lee Ken Yen K1/3 Gentle, 2007)