Michael’s* premature birth caused him to be born with a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity, which means that he has an underdeveloped retina. This resulted in him being visually-impaired, which denied him the opportunity to attend school like every other neurotypical child. Given that he is also a non- Singaporean citizen, he was not able to enrol into the existing inclusive programmes recommended via SGenable.
Unlike Michael, his twin sister did not suffer any complications from the early birth. She was thus able to attend preschool since the age of 2, which made Michael wonder why he was not able to go to school with his sister. This left his family feeling bridled with guilt and grief over how one twin would always feel left out. Through the Education Support Programme, PPS managed to provide Michael his first schooling experience, where he is able to participate in lessons and learn alongside his peers through tactile and auditory means. Michael uses braille to learn the alphabet and its sounds and to recognise his name, and also refers to a tactile schedule with pop-up items for him to feel.
In the past year under the ESP, Michael has progressed greatly in terms of self-help skills - the team has managed to assist him with his oral and motor difficulties. Michael is now able to chew his food with minimal gagging and eats school food instead of snacks provided from home. Michael is also toilet trained now and is able to undress and dress himself with minimal assistance. Additionally, it has been heart-warming watching his peers blossom into gentle, caring and others-centered individuals due to his presence. With Michael requiring verbal and physical support, his peers have shown great improvements in their communication skills as well as gentle physical behaviours. They often encourage him during activities and help him with tasks when needed.
*Names have been changed to maintain anonymity
If you would like to partner us in our work in creating an inclusive learning environment for children with added needs, you may consider donating to the Little Blessings for Little Ones fund. Find out more here: https://bit.ly/PPSBlessings