Fathers with special needs kids share their joys and pains
Being a father is not easy, but being a father of a special needs child can be even more challenging.
These special dads shared this at a Father's Day dialogue with Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.
There were 15 dads, 11 with special needs children, at a dialogue organised by Dads For Life and Mediacorp, with support from the National Population and Talent Division and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Organisations which support those with special needs have seen more fathers participating.
Ms Nirmala Gopiendran, acting head of the social work department at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, said: "It is in the special needs sector that I see mothers playing an important role in the care and education of their special child. But over the years, I also found fathers play a significant role."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post yesterday noted that fathers today are a lot more hands-on in raising children. "In their own special ways, fathers impart advice to help us make life decisions and learn values that steer us along the right path."
The dialogue, which features dads who are facing challenges in raising families, hopes to help people understand and encourage these fathers, said Mr Richard Hoon, chairman for the Centre for Fathering.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Tan wrote: "Beyond family, another way to seek support is in meeting other fathers in similar situations and learning how they cope can be a great help in your parenting journey.
I can’t control how society or non-inclusive people treat my kid or look at us, but I can control the way I react.One father, who has two children with special needs
"Sometimes, knowing that we are not alone in our parenting struggles gives us the strength to carry on and keep going."
Some fathers also shared suggestions on coping with their challenges and asked for more support from various organisations and society.
One father, who has two children with special needs, said society is not always kind, especially when their children act up in public.
He added: "I can't control how society or non-inclusive people treat my kid or look at us, but I can control the way I react."
Speaking of the challenges he has faced when travelling with his children, he recalled how his son became agitated when his yogurt was snatched away by security because of restrictions on taking liquids on flights and highlighted that Changi Airport Group does not have a policy for people with "invisible" special needs.
Other airports such as those in the United States, Australia and Taiwan have such policies, he pointed out.
Another dad, Mr Andy Seow, 47, with an eight-year-old son with moderate autism, said he spends $3,000 a month on his child's education as the school does not get subsidies from the Government.
Speaking to The New Paper after the session, he said his child, who is non-verbal and semi-toilet trained, has shown improvement since joining Divinity Education, which has smaller class sizes, last October.
Mr Seow, who appealed for Government subsidies last year to help defray costs, with little success, added: "I'm glad that I was able to be straightforward and voice out my issues to the fathers as well as the Minister at the dialogue session."