I wrote this to ST forum.
Published on Nov 27, 2013
I VISITED a secondary school in Bukit Panjang after the release of my son's Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results.
Initially, I was impressed by the school's showcase of its students' talents and the school leaders' warm welcome.
I wanted to inform the school leaders of my son's special needs and gain their support if he were to be posted there.
I told the head of department that my son has dyspraxia, which affects his coordination and movement, and requested that he be allowed to use his laptop to type out his class work as he has problems with writing.
The head of department said she had never heard of the condition.
When I asked if she had ever come across students who were excessively clumsy, uncoordinated and had messy handwriting, she said these cases arose from the students' attitude. She also asked how my son would survive in the working world without being able to write.
After I gave her a detailed medical explanation of my son's condition, she suggested that I put him in a school where he can be well supported.
The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board had recognised my son's condition and allowed him to type his answers during the PSLE.
My reason for eyeing this particular school was that it has extensive information and communications technology-based lessons.
When I spoke to the vice-principal, he asked why I brought up the issue even before my son had been posted to the school. He also told me not to talk about dyspraxia and learning difficulties in front of my son as these would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I am disturbed that educators are ignorant about children with special needs and are unwilling to learn more about them.
Maheswari Gopalakrishnan (Madam)