I refer to the recent unfortunate incident, where the father of a pair of special needs twins was arrested and subsequently charged for their murder.
The only “positive” thing to have emerged from this tragedy is that we are coerced as a society to once again, relook into the issue of special needs children and their weary caregivers as a moral obligation of a developed Nation.
Unfortunately, we have not progressed much in this area even though we have a purported “special needs” Mayor in parliament known as Mdm Denise Phua, whose present silence is most deafening!
As a cousin to three special needs children who are in adulthood now, I can emphasise with Mr Xavier Yap’s predicaments as I have witnessed firsthand, the struggles my Uncles and Aunts went through just to bring them up as normally as possible. All with minimal to no assistance from the government and judgemental glares from a society which does not sufficiently comprehend the temperaments of these children and who feel “better off” as they’re not in a similar situation.
We have to shed this mentality of comparison with the worse off to make ourselves feel better and pat ourselves on the back with a false sense of security.
My maternal Aunt living in Nee Soon East survived breast cancer while caring for her two severely autistic sons when her husband was retrenched in the name of “progression”. They make ends meet by scrimping and saving every cent they have and are waiting for the best opportunity to downgrade their home when the time is right. My cousins remain their constant source of worry.
On the side of my Paternal Aunt residing at MacPherson, my Down syndrome cousin in his thirties is battling some medical ailments while my Aunt herself requires management of her chronic conditions. Her husband is battling a relapse of cancer and still goes to work daily at YMCA. The unenviable burden lies on my second cousin who has to work and care for all three of them. Subsidies are minimal as my Uncle and Cousin are working so the State deems them as “well-off”.
A common “theme” that recurs on both sides of my families is that my Uncles and Aunts wish for death for their special needs children before them as no one else will care and love them like they do. We have after all, witnessed ill-treatments at elderly care facilities and wonder how many more go unreported in our 160th ranked media.
My most memorable time was when I worked with a special needs parent in 2012 in conjunction with TR Emeritus, to fight for the first ever, insurance for the Down syndrome and Autistic when we highlighted the plight of the special needs who have no medical coverage from insurers which claimed they are unable to do so with no medical evidence.
After Mr Richard Wan pressed the case relentlessly, the medical integrated insurers finally relented and drew up a plan for them.
It’s a real pity we have to resort to public appeals of conscience in order to get things done.
Dan De Costa