Programme for Pupils with Multiple Disabilities
No Obstacle Too Hard
The idea of a single parent raising a child with multiple disabilities who needs constant care and attention may appear daunting to many among us. Mdm Amidah, however, energetically radiates optimism as she proclaimed, “No obstacle is too hard for me to overcome in my journey with my special child.” Her son, Hilmi was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic and Development Delay in 2004 when he was about two years old. His mother Mdm Amidah has since been juggling her full time job as a sales manager at a fast food restaurant while caring for him.
A Mother’s Instinct with Early Intervention
Hilmi was placed in Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School’s waiting list and was enrolled in 2007. Before he joined Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School, Mdm Amidah nurtured him with the wisdom of her maternal instinct and sensitivity. Hilmi used to tense up physically whenever he was anxious or happy. This often caused his mother who was holding him up to lose her balance. Once, she fell while showering him and hit her head. She soon learnt how to hold him while keeping herself safe, but beyond that, she also sought to help him to relax. “I would keep talking to him and encourage him to relax,” she recounted. “He understands what I say to him. I noticed that he would relax whenever he heard songs, so I sang to him, and in time, he would sing along with me too!”
Mdm Amidah also gave Hilmi a head start in his education before he started school at Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School. She resourcefully used materials available at home, such as her niece’s and nephew’s assortment of flashcards, to introduce words and concepts to Hilmi. This would be furthered at Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School, where he learnt to communicate using pictorial cards. He is now able to communicate effectively with people by looking pointedly at the relevant picture cards and smiling for “yes,” and not smiling for “no.”
A Star at Rainbow
“Hilmi is a very impressive boy, very enjoyable to teach, a real star in my class,” Teacher Usha declared. Indeed, Hilmi has made great progress at Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School. Mdm Amidah noted in particular that his social and communication skills have improved, and that he likes his friends, teachers, and school activities. Intervention at school also saw vast improvements to his motor and physical abilities. For instance, Hilmi used to have a limited range of motion. With therapy and practice, he is now able to move his limbs more freely and make kicking motions.
Smiling fondly at Hilmi, Teacher Usha shared that Hilmi often initiates engaging with others and participating in class. This enthusiasm surely enhanced his learning and development. For example, his keen participation in Physical Education and swimming lessons at school helped his motor skills. This zest for life saw him participate in the “Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Program 2013,” where he bagged an award.
In order to accompany Hilmi at school daily, his mother works the night shift at the fast food restaurant. Asked if she feels tired, Mdm Amidah cheerfully replied, “Tired? I put that aside. Hilmi is my child.” She then launched into listing what she feels thankful for - her mother and siblings who help out, her nieces and nephews who are chummy with Hilmi, her understanding employers, and her peers at Rainbow Centre Singapore’s Parent Support Group who are a source of information and mutual encouragement.
Mdm Amidah’s positive outlook has rubbed off on Hilmi, who exhibits a sweet and cheerful disposition. Mdm Amidah reveals that her underlying source of strength is God. “I often pray to be a happy person, instead of being sad and burdened. When I am happy, Hilmi is also happy. Happy mother, happy child.” Hearing that, Hilmi beamed a big smile at his mother.