Voices of REACh Children
From J, 6 years old
I have been in the centre about 9 months, since March, 2013. I join Sunday Session, Music & Movement, Pre-Vocational, One to One Learning, Learning Box and Group OT programmes in the centre. I like Learning Box and Sensory Integration most. I learn self care, sharing and independence in the centre. I meet new friends and have many friends in the centre.
From WH, 17 years old
I have been in the centre about 13 years since the year 2000. I learn how to wash a car, pluck weed, do housework, do woodwork, cook and recycle thing. I also participated in singing competition and performance. I am trained to behave properly and to great people properly. I like the computer class that taught by Teacher Ho. I have a lot friends in the centre.
From SF, 22 years old
I first joined Lions REACh in 2009. I didn’t like the place at first because it was hot, crowded and there were children crying. I had to do housework, which was fine. However, I did not like cooking as I was afraid of turning on the gas stove and standing near it. I was also impatient and disliked having to wait in queue. However, as time passed, I got used to the routine and now it does not bother me anymore. Now, I can even cook simple omelette, instant noodles and fried rice with minimal assistance. I am very happy. I learn to count and give the correct change when buying food from the canteen during the Sunday Family Session.
I join many programmes in the centre, such as neuro feedback, story-telling, play therapy, pottery, traverse wall and others. Amongst them, I enjoy play therapy the most because I get to play and mix with my friends. I also get to do outdoor activity like going to the cinema, bowling and eating in a restaurant. We have Karaoke singing competition. I was very frightened when I had to stand in front of a crowd and sing for the first time. My teachers and other parents were very helpful and gave me a lot of encouragement. Now, I am anxious but no longer afraid. This year, we played dress-up for Halloween during play therapy. We also played games and I enjoyed myself very much.
Another programme that I like is the traverse wall programme. When I first tried to climb the traverse wall, two occupational therapists had to support me to keep me from falling down. Now, after 2 years, I can climb on my own even at a more difficult level. My parents are very proud of me.
During pottery sessions, I learn how to make cups, bowls and even made a snowman. When I first joined the pottery group, I didn’t like it at all. The mud made my hands dirty and sticky. I washed my hands many times during the session. Now, I have got used to the feel of the clay and only wash my hands at the end of the session.
I like going to REACh because I have friends there and I like most of the activities. I have learned many things. The teachers are strict but kind and patient.
Voices of REACh Parents
From Mrs. Lee
WJ has been with Lions REACh since July 2011. Prior to joining this centre, WJ was attached to another centre. One year after joining the centre, I heard about Lions REACh which offered a lot of programmes targeting different areas of development apart from the one to one teaching. After exploring the programmes, I decided to register WJ because I believed that the programmes would benefits WJ in terms of social skills and self discipline. After being on the waiting list for 9 months, WJ finally joined the centre.
Before joining Lions REACh, WJ was very timid and anxious when he entered new places and was unable to sit calmly for more than 5 mins. After joining the centre, he does not have anxiety of new places or environment. The Music & Movement (M&M) sessions and Pre Vocational programmes have trained him to sit in one place for at least an hour. He is also able to follow instructions and imitate actions during the M&M. He is now more responsive to people around him. He enjoys the M&M sessions very much. Hydrotherapy and Sensory Integration have also made him calmer and more alert.
I am really impressed with the teachers' dedication towards the children's well being and progress. They arranged the programmes in a very structured manner for the children to follow. They also try to arrange the children's schedule to make it as convenient for the parents.
The centre has a strong parents' support group who meet regularly to discuss on how to improve the condition of the centre for the comfort of both the children and parents. They are always looking for solutions to improve the safety as well as making the centre more homely for everyone.
I am also impressed with Mr Lim and Dr See's selfless contribution towards the centre, and not to forget all the board of directors and committee members who ensured that the centre runs smoothly.
Overall, my experience at the centre is full of joyful memories as I see my child progress and reaching one milestone after another. It is worth all the hard work I put in. Being involved at the centre has also taught me to be humble and patient as I interact with people from different background but with the same ultimate goal which is to ensure that their child's journey towards the real world is as pleasant and smooth as possible.
From Mrs. Koay
My daughter joined Lions Reach in 2009. Prior to that, she was in the main stream education system. However, she was unable to cope. It was then that we canvassed around for a place that would offer a holistic education for her. That is when we came across Lions REACh.
When she first attended REACh, she did not have good motor skills. Her social and living skills were also lacking. Through the years, we have noticed progressive improvements in many areas of her development. Her motor skills have significantly improved. Before joining the centre, she could not perform simple household chores. Now she can perform household chores like ironing, sweeping, mopping and washing the car. Her fine motor skills have also become better. Now, she is able to make handicrafts (like greeting cards, paper bags and beaded key chains) which are sold by the centre and she received an income.
My daughter is rather impatient and gets annoyed when she had to queue up. However, since her involvement in the activities (eg, taking turns, queuing up for the canteen, lining up, etc) during the Sunday Family Programme, this is no longer an issue.
Her participation in the play therapy has also helped her to overcome her shyness. I remember vividly that she would hold on tightly to her father’s hand during her first karaoke signing competition. She has since become less shy and is able to sing alone in front of a crowd. It is through play therapy that she managed to eventually overcome her shyness. She also went to the cinema and bowling for the first time as a play therapy group outing. Prior to this, she had always refused to go.
Another area that I have seen improvement is in her social skills. She is now able to interact more with her friends. She has even attended overnight camps at the centre. Before this she has never slept alone overnight away from home. Through the occupational therapy programme, my daughter has improved greatly in money management. She is now able to pay for her own purchase at the supermarket cashier and she can pay her own bill when she goes to the restaurant.
The dedication and diligence of the Chairman, Principal, teachers and volunteers has impressed me most. Very often, I have noticed the staff stay back after office hours and even on Sundays to make sure all the learning programmes are successfully implemented. They work tirelessly, selflessly and always have the interests of the children in the centre first. Parents who are facing problems handling their child at home can always approach the teachers for advice and guidance. The teachers are firm but very patient when dealing with children.
REACh is also a place where we share our experiences and talk about our trials and tribulations regarding our special child with other parents. Learning that your child is not the only one facing learning problems can be a source of comfort. Furthermore, the experienced parents act as mentors and have been very helpful in guiding new parents and children when they first join the centre.
I am also impressed by the fact that Lions REACh can offer so many learning programmes in a multi-disciplinary and holistic nature and thus making it a “one stop” centre.
In summary, my experience in Lions REACh has been extremely good. I wished I had known about Lions REACh earlier, as my child would have improved even more if she had joined the various learning programmes earlier. I would definitely recommend Lions REACh to other parents.
Voices of REACh Teachers
From Teacher Lee
I have been working in Lions REACh for almost 14 years since 2000. It is by coincident and by chance I got to know the centre and later on decided to work at the centre. The belief of there is always hope for children with autism motivates me to carry on serving in the centre. Throughout the years of working with the children, they taught me a lot about ‘real life’ and trimmed me to be a better person who has patience and endurance. There are times when the children improved on suddenly, there is a setback and developed more bad behavior or became violent; I still consciously remind myself to stand firm and keep pushing through these hard times. My relationship with children with autism is teacher and as friend. Autistic children must learn to understand authority yet the relationship of a friend comforts them and enables them to open up to the world.
From Teacher Chong
I have been working in Lions Reach for about 11 years. The time was suitable. I had a secular job from 8:30am to 4:30pm. After my secular work, I was able to have quick dinner and I was off to do my teaching at Lions REACh. I had no experience for any study in special education in teaching children with special needs but I took it as a challenge. The centre provided trainings for new teachers like me and sometimes we attend talks by professionals to improve our skills. As we work, we also learn how to cope with the work.
Whether we are teachers, volunteers or parents, we can help the children see their strength and value their uniqueness.
Research tells us that children with autism improve when parents and families are involved in their lives and education. As strong partnership exists between the centre and families. Apart from this, we have teachers who are committed to come alongside these children. There is so much goodness and acceptance in Lions REACh.
Our Principal Dato’ Dr See does a good job by making sure that the centre runs smoothly advocating for these children. She has set a good environment for learning and bringing out the potentials of each child. The centre’s objective is to meet the needs of our children, parents and teachers.
By working with these children, I learn to be grateful and appreciate life better. I have more compassion and exercise self-control more often. I don’t give up easily when it is hard. I also have a better understanding about what really matters in life and it made a difference with how I approach and appreciate life.
While we teach these children, these children teach us what life is all about. These children are an amazing lot. They always rise above situations and they never let the centre down. When we see this, wow we are really so happy because we see something good happening in their lives and this is why we should not give up on them.
Over these 10 years, I have experienced frustrations and also joy. I see children struggling in the school but I also see some of the children achieve good results. For those who got good result, I am very proud of them but for those who did not do well in their academic achievement, I am equally proud of them because they tried their best. We weep and rejoice in every challenging situation in our centre.
My aspiration at Lions REACh is to ensure that children benefit from the experience that includes quality learning opportunities. Sometimes when we talk to the mothers about their children, it ends up being tearful conversation. The point I want to share is that some parents especially the mothers are really broken hearted and we the teachers in the centre work alongside them and not forget them too. This is why commitment to the centre is important and we need to give our best to the centre.
I thank Lions REACh for giving me the opportunity to work with these children.