Many people with special needs often face such labelling when in public. Senior Early Intervention Programme (EIPIC) teacher Arnold Chua shares his thoughts on this.
On a MRT ride early this month, I saw a young boy flap his hands, rock his body back and forth repeatedly while seated, and utter indecipherable words. He seemed to be self-absorbed and oblivious to the surroundings. Seconds later, commuters seated near him stood up and walked away. One of them even uttered ‘xiao’, which means crazy in the Hokkien dialect.
The young boy continued his stereotypical and repetitive behaviour, unaffected by how others viewed him, and at the same time oblivious that his action could be frowned on by others.
This incident highlights the need to be tolerant, patient and accepting of others who are different from us and not to label them negatively. As Mr Lee Teck Chuan wrote (2 February 2016, The Strait Times Forum, “Pull down fences that limit our kids”), sticking labels on children prematurely does not augur well for inclusivity. Though people with special needs are a minority in our society, they are part of the community too and deserve the same respect and consideration as any others.
In order to become an inclusive society, we need to eradicate the stereotypes and labels of people with special needs as everyone has the potential to learn and grow. All they need is more time to contribute in their own way, and certainly our acceptance of their differences.
Senior EIPIC Teacher