A child’s milestones is always exciting. Their first smile, their first flip, their first step, their first time sleeping thru the night and of course, their first day of school.
Aaron is starting school at Rainbow Centre on 3 July. Let me give you some history on how we got here..
His geneticist and neurologist decided that he indeed needs more help and so their got the lengthy process of application for an Early Intervention Programme (EIPIC) started.
We had to 1st see a Medical Social Worker, who’s office is in a dingy basement with stale musky carpets and boxes of “free clothes” for whoever who needed them. I was very offended being there sitting in that office because the vibe that they gave me was that “only low income people have special needs” i know my observation is harsh and very dumb. But hey, i am in Singapore, and i am seriously telling you that some shopping mall toilets are even more bright and cheery (and smells better) than that place. I take offense that it portrayed the sadness and pathetic-ness. Ok, back to that visit, the Medical Social Worker went thru an application form and filled up the info and ask really silly (in my opinion) questions like “how do you feel your child going to EIPIC”. Come on…
Next step.. SG Enable. This is the weirdest branch that exists. My application got submitted to them, then their JOB is to call me to tell me that they have received it and noted the choice of my school and will contact the school to contact me. I was not in a fabulous mood that day so i shared with the SG Enable girl that something is very wrong with the system and blah blah blah.. but she being most likely a young girl in her 20s.. She didnt get what i mean.. probably didnt care much too.
Fast forward a few weeks later, I got an email to invite the parents to the school for a Parent Information Session + tour of the school and its facilities. The day came, i went. I was impressed with the surroundings and their facilities. It is rather newly renovated. At the Q&A session i asked “How to remove the stigma of a special needs school and what are the chances of moving on to a mainstream school?” I didnt get my answer. But yes, i do know the answer is Me and my mindset on things.
So, all these happened in March thru May.. 2 week after i submitted the forms, they invited Aaron and myself over for an evaluation on what class he is going to be in which best suits his current abilities. I went there with as open a mind and yet, i keep having a feeling that i have failed as a parent.
OK, now for the part on why i am so anal about this.
WHY WHY in God’s name, Singapore, a First World Country, has to create special schools to HIDE kids with disabilities. Hey.. they aren’t mutants (actually they kinda are but they just don’t have mutant powers). Here i am, feeling lousy and sorry for myself for having a special needs child.. and there they are, creating such a weird path for me to walk down just to enroll him into a school. A normal child, going to preschool is easy, i scout around, i make an appointment to visit the school, then i like what i see, i enroll. WHY must i go through the Medical Social Worker and SG Enabled to come into contact with the School? Yes, processes. I get it. But it really irks me that i am given such “special treatment” just to highlight that we are SPECIAL.. not in the unicorn and rainbow kind of way.
Disclaimer: In no way here i am trying to pretend i am some spoilt rich bitch (though it might come across as that)…
Basically in Singapore, there are subsidies for many many many things.. This is to make people feel good and also create the impression that everyone’s financial needs and abilities are being met. Blah blah..
This is an snip of the fees for the various special schools based on their income. So total income, divided by number of humans. So for example, dad works, $3k a month. Mom doesnt. 1 special kid. So that makes the income in Tier 3. So look to the right.. monthly fee is $120. Wow.. you might think, so cheap!! yeah!! very good.
Yes, i can see that it is highly affordable. BUT.. if you have gone through with NORMAL preschool, there is only 1 fee and 1 fee only. Which is the monthly fee. Let me show u an example.
So what am i bitching about? I am bitching that the fact of WHY can’t things be more discreet. Why do they make it feel that unfortunate things (having a special needs child) happens to unfortunate people (lower income, broken families).. Yes, i am being strange here, yes, it is good that the government heavily subsidizes the fees. But you see, in the normal preschool setting, there are a myriad of subsidies and help that one could apply and get too. But they dont flash it out right and they respect the privacy of people who are struggling with finances.
I know i am not very clear in expressing how i feel about this and the argument isnt very strong. All i want, hope and wish is that i dont have to go through all these elaborate steps and fanfare. I do not get looked at as “aww.. poor thing”. Its the dignity and pride. Yes, any will argue that pride and ego do not bring food to the table. I am just very unhappy that being special needs, it is being highlighted with flood lights.
And it is sad. It is something some people can never comprehend. It is very easy to be a bystander and give comments and encouragement. VERY EASY. If as a friend, you cannot understand why i am not jumping for joy and feeling blessed about everything, then maybe you do not know me well enough.