Last Friday, my 12-year-old son, who has autism, disappeared. I am so thankful to those who supported me in my search. I posted an appeal for help on Facebook, which was shared more than a thousand times. Strangers sent me messages to ask which areas they could help to patrol, and many more assured me that they were praying for my son to be found.

After 3.5 hours, an auxiliary policeman called me to say that he had found my son at the airport. I wonder how my son ended up at Changi Airport, since we live in Hougang. He told us that he took bus service 27 to the airport.

But how could he have taken a bus since he does not have a bus pass? Did the bus driver graciously give him a ride? It is almost impossible to search for a child with autism if he has taken public transport away from the original location.

I hope that public transport operators will refrain from giving rides to children or adults who cannot pay and cannot explain why they cannot pay. Better still, they should alert the transport service’s help station or contact the person’s caregivers immediately.

This way, parents can be saved a lot of time and heartache searching for their children with autism. I hope our society will become not only more compassionate, but also more adept at helping people with special needs.

Brenda Tan Sinc Wee

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