Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 3

Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 3

After being here a few weeks I realized something was missing. I had not seen a handicapped person - anywhere. How could this be? How could S'pore defy the laws of statistics?

A further, more determined search still yielded nothing. There are no handicapped parking spots. No handicapped access to anything (the amount of stairs here is daunting). There are some ramps into some buildings but they are few and far between. Maybe by not catering to the handicapped people they kept the numbers down. Then I discovered the truth. There are indeed handicapped people here but in this society where "face" is all important if your family is so "unlucky" to have such a person that person is "hidden" away. Literally, the person is kept at home out of sight.

This mentality is carried over into how the handicapped children are treated in the schools. There are special schools where they are kept segregated from the "normal" population. There are special schools for the blind, deaf, mentally sub-normal (neat term, huh?), spastic (I think they mean cerebral palsy and physically handicapped), etc. I was appalled. This mind set is at least 20 years behind the U.S. education standards for handicapped children.

I was told that my Masters degree in Speech THerapy would be greatly appreciated - anywhere. I did a little investigating into what a local school might be like. There is a Margaret Dr. Special School within walking distance from us. To be fair, I have not stepped foot into this school. However, I was told by an expat who does volunteer for the school, that she thought Speech Therapy was very minimal. Supposedly Down Syndrome children were only getting therapy once a week!!!!! At this point, my guilt kicks in and I think I should rush over there to offer my services - free of charge.

Sanity kicked in after the guilt and I refrained from barging in. Also, I was given the name of a private school which deals with a large population of special needs children and actually does some mainstreaming. Ahhh. I called. They asked to see me the next day. I went. They eventually were going to offer me a job on my terms (part time). I turned it down. That's another story.

The Singapore American School (SAS) can't be bothered with handicapped children. They would depress their school test scores. This school screens out and does not accept children who would not be "successful" in this highly competitive school. This is a private school so I suppose they have that right.

With this out of sight out of mind attitude about handicapped people, I can't help but wonder how this affects the general populations thinking about individual differences. Conformity seems to be the ideal. Maybe next fall I'll get up my courage to actually visit the Margaret Dr. Special School.

Speech Therapy at the private school is an "extra". The parents have to pay extra for it in addition to the school tuition. Therefore, all sessions are individual. Not exactly ideal to my way of thinking.