About him

We have a boy, and he is special.

His preschool teacher pointed out his condition when he was three years old.

One day, his teacher called, asking us to meet her. Somehow, I knew what might happen, as there were murmurs from the previous school of his condition, but it was never confirmed, and we dismissed it, thinking he was probably a late bloomer.

I will never forget that faithful day when I called up my husband, weeping

“Yohane’s teacher wants to meet up with us.”

We met with teacher Liz and were told he was different from other kids. He couldn’t understand basic instructions. He couldn’t do what a normal kid can do easily.

We crashed

My husband called his paediatrician immediately, and a meeting with a psychiatrist was scheduled for the same week. What happened next was a whirlwind of events: standardised tests to gauge his developmental levels compared to his peers, visits to special-ed schools, talking to many people, and visiting many websites.

He was diagnosed with global development delay, and the cause of it is autism. The news hit me very hard. The reports that came subsequently hit me even harder. From the report, we were told of his numerous issues and the need to address all of them.

The same year was the golden jubilee, and we got tickets to attend the NDP. and it was the saddest NDP. At the back of my mind, I wondered if I should stay home to do more early intervention stuff with him.

Wondering in the wilderness

Our psychiatrist directed us to three different therapists: a speech therapist, a behavioural therapist, and an occupational therapist. We also need to find a preschool that can take him while he is not with his therapist.

And the therapists weren’t cheap.

For example, an occupational therapist costs  S$150 a session, and because it is during office hours, one of us has to take a break from work to bring him there. Speech therapy is another S$150/hour, and behavioural costs are between S$45 and S$150, depending on the teachers’ experience.

The cost quickly adds up.

At one point, the monthly therapist bill alone for Yohanes adds up to between 2 – 3k

It quickly reaches a point when we must decide who to let go.

One of the early intervention program was to colour within the line.

Enter Johnny

Raising an Autistic child was the hardest thing I had to do. We constantly had to rush around. We rushed to the therapist’s office and then made time to do the same thing his therapist did at home to ensure that he had sufficient practice before his next appointment. Then, we rushed to work so that we had money to pay his therapists.

Johnny, his therapist, gave us the most straightforward advice anyone has ever given: Drop speech and occupational therapy. I don’t think Yohanes requires it.

At that point, we were unsure. We wondered if he meant well or just wanted us to pay for more lessons for him.

This is the part of our life when we are in constant flux.

Do you think we should do this? Do you think we should do that? Let’s try that. No, let’s do that. And with the clock ticking constantly at the back of our minds. 

Your son has just two years more before he enters primary 1. 

We were constantly stressed, and a stressed mind made terrible decisions.

They were constantly together. 

Enter teacher May

By now, Yohanes is 4.5 years old and is making good progress in his behavioural therapy. We listened to Johny’s advice to drop speech and occupational therapy, and with the money saved for not having to spend on therapists, we decided to look for a suitable special ed preschool for him. We found one in Novena. It was expensive at 4500 per term.

Teacher May at Novena was good. Yohanes managed to develop classroom skills and penmanship in a very short period. This tells us that our son is teachable with the correct approach.

This period was a golden period for Yohanes and it last for about five months but the impact on him shaped him up forever. On the one hand, Johnny gave him behavioural therapy, and on the other hand, teacher May trained his academic skills.

Yohanes with his brother. His brother turns out to be his best speech therapist.

Pathlight or Mainstream?

We decided to change psychologist because the previous one quit, and, more importantly, we didn’t like her. She called my husband once to ask about my son, but not only did she say the wrong name, but she also said that we are the parents still in denial. At that time, we had been through 2 years of early intervention programs, so it is not only annoying but to be remembered by her as a parent in denial is a big insult to our effort. My husband told her politely that we are now engaged with KK Hospital and no longer need her service. She is lucky that she didn’t call me. I would have given her a piece of my mind.

So, KK Hospital is the final piece of the puzzle in my son’s EIP journey. Dr Wong is very detailed and spend time and effort to carefully direct us to available resources, including recommending a list of childcare centre that will help my son.

At the end of the treatment plan, my husband asked if we should go mainstream instead.

She told him politely. It is every Singaporean right to go to Primary school, but only a selected few can go to Pathlight. Why would you want your son to enter a class with a 1:40 ratio when he can enjoy a small class of 2:8 students? Unlike the previous psychologist, who thinks that a successful case is to enter the mainstream, what Dr. Wong said immediately made a lot of sense to us.

Our roadmap is now apparent. Work towards Pathlight and get a place for him in there.

The path to Pathlight

2012

Birth of my son

2015 early

Liz Montessori informed us that something is not right about Yohanes

2015 late

Singapore golden jubilee and also the most stressful year for us. Nothing we do seems to be correct. If we are resting, we feel guilty that we are not spending time to do EIP with him.

2016 

We met Teacher May. Together with Johnny, Yohanes made giant leaps in his development.

We met Dr Wong, and during our regular visit to KK Hospital, she recommended a list of preschools. And we finally settled Yohanes in a preschool that knew about his condition and could adequately care for him.

2017 – D day

We submitted three reports to Pathlight: Divinity Preschool, Dr. May’s and Johnny’s report. Pathlight also interviewed Yohanes to try to see his behaviour in class.

2018

We succeeded! Yohanes is successfully enrolled into Pathlight!

2019 – Present

Parents with autistic kids will understand that finding enrichment classes or after school care for their child is challenging. That is the main reason why we started Starlight.

To provide specialised after school care service for kids with autism.

school hours

M-F: 1pm – 6:00pm

Address

20 Kramat Lane #05-05 Singapore 228773

Email

han@starlight.edu.sg

Phone

+65 6589 8582

Ken Tang
Ken Tang
2024-03-29
A Special Place for Special Needs: Starlight After School CareStarlight After School Care with Autism specializes in providing tailored education for children like my son. Their customized approach has helped him transition from challenging behaviors to positive ones, fostering his growth and development. I'm relieved to see him eager and happy to attend school and student care every day, especially after a negative experience with a previous after-school program. Starlight After School Care has truly made a difference in our lives.

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