These educators feel fulfilled teaching children with special needs
She applied to be a special education teacher on a whim, not knowing what to expect. One year into the job, and Ms Shalini Chandramohen knew it was what she wanted to do.
The 31-year-old has been with Awwa School for 11 years. The social service agency provides special education to children and teenagers (aged seven to 18) with multiple disabilities and young learners with autism.
There had been challenges, but Ms Shalini is happy doing what she enjoys.
When one of her pupils with global developmental delay refused to participate in an online lesson during the circuit breaker, Ms Shalini spent her days off crafting a personalised learning package just for her.
Knowing that the child, who has cognitive learning difficulties, enjoys playing with puzzles, Ms Shalini customised subsequent online lessons to suit the nine-year-old's interests, which included activities such as colour sorting.
Ms Shalini also had to juggle both mum and teacher duties while at "work", a makeshift space anywhere in her two-room flat in Yishun.
"Even when the going gets tough, I am happy. My students have taught me so many life lessons that I can apply with my five-year-old son, for example patience, which I have cultivated over the years," she said.
For senior educational therapist Noorsaidah Haja Mohideen, 38, who has been teaching primary and secondary school students at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore since 2015, focusing on the little things such as mood changes can go a long way.
"Children with special needs communicate differently. Paying attention to their body language is the first step in understanding and accepting them," she said.
Teaching children with specific learning differences requires intuition and a calm temperament, said Ms Noorsaidah, who once taught a Primary 2 pupil who had violent tantrums and would hit or punch her during lessons.
The girl was also non-verbal and had bouts of anger that could sometimes be difficult to control.
Ms Noorsaidah said: "I wanted to know what her actions were trying to convey. It was then I found out that her single father was very ill with cancer and he died in the same year.
"I went to her father's funeral and she smiled at me, which she rarely did. That smile itself was a reminder of why I love being an educator."