Circuit breaker tough on special needs children, but parents find creative ways to cope – AutismSTEP

They do not adapt to being stuck at home as well as their typically developing peers. So meeting their needs means there are struggles, and triumphs, for their parents.

SINGAPORE: When the “circuit breaker” measures were announced on Apr 3, Cinddie Tay told her son he could not visit the nearby minimart to buy his snacks any more.

“He didn’t have tantrum meltdowns the way you may imagine — more like relentless nagging and begging,” said the 42-year-old.

Her 10-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is normally used to a full routine of tuition, swimming, home counselling and art therapy. He now faced weeks of having to stay at home with limited activity options.

Ace initially “binged on Netflix and YouTube videos”, but the prolonged screen time “worsened his already serious attention issues”. He grew increasingly distracted during conversation and could not maintain eye contact.

So his parents came up with an idea to help him “calm down and focus”.

They rented a car from BlueSG, packed Ace into it, and for 30 minutes each day now, they drive around their Sengkang estate and Punggol to “look at scenery”.

“Letting him see that no kids are out on the streets and that stores are shut reduces his anger and frustration when we tell him no going out,” said Tay.

Ace is not the only child who has had his familiar, structured routine overturned.

While the circuit-breaker period — now extended until June 1 — and home-based learning are challenging for many parents, those with children with special needs grapple with unique worries.

These include the loss of routines vital to many such children, and therapy sessions being put on hold, which could mean developmental setbacks. These have challenged parents and some education providers to invent creative ways to address the children’s needs.


Deeana Mohamed’s sons, seven-year-old Ryan and 11-year-old Rifqi, who have low-functioning autism, usually spend their weekdays in special education schools and student care, from 7am to 7pm. After dinner, their home transforms into a “play haven”.

And their weekends entail running around and playing outside.

For them, adjusting to a new routine takes longer than it does for a typical child. “They’ll whine, complain and avoid. They get very restless when I try to get them to do their work,” Deeana said.

“My kids see me as their mum who brings them comfort, food and lodging, whereas they see their teacher as an educator, and firmness means business.”

Like many children with special needs, her sons also benefit from having a trained therapist to help the teacher instil daily living skills, such as how to wash and store their plates after eating.

“Teachers and therapists have time to wait for the kids to follow their instructions,” she added.



For full article, please visit: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/circuit-breaker-special-needs-children-parents-find-ways-to-cope-12675766

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