Paving the Way for Social Inclusion for Adults on the Autism Spectrum
In Singapore, it is difficult to provide a statistical figure on the actual number of persons on the autism spectrum. There have been no accurate studies conducted in Singapore to establish exact prevalence rates here, but it is likely that, based on prevalence rates worldwide, the figure will be in the region of 1% of the total population1. While one-third of those diagnosed remain relatively less verbal throughout their lives, there are about 44% who possess average or above-average intellectual abilities2. The Autism Association Singapore (AA(S)) wants every adult on the autism spectrum in Singapore to experience equal work and social opportunities. Sharing this aspiration, SGX Bull Charge has been supporting the Autism Association (Singapore) for the past 17 years in bridging this gap and raising people’s awareness of the plight of Singapore’s adults on the autism spectrum.
AA(S): Raising Autism Awareness in Singapore
Since it was established, the AA(S) has supported hundreds of individuals on the autism spectrum by helping them develop skills needed for daily living, social interaction, work and community living.
It also continuously promotes the involvement of families and the community in caring for those on the autism spectrum. It does this by helping establish day activity centres, and training facilities to support the education and welfare of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. These facilities include the Eden Children’s Centre, Eden School, Eden Centre for Adults and Eden Activity Club.
Recognising the need for more support for adults on the autism spectrum, the AA(S) established the Eden Centres for Adults at Hougang and Clementi. The centres conducts weekly activities for holistic development, including skills trainings for daily living, personal health, vocational work, social interaction and community living.
Through these programmes, adults on the autism spectrum can better interact with their families, the workforce and the rest of society.
Learning life skills at the Eden Centre for Adults
SGX Bull Charge Supports the AA(S) Mission
SGX Bull Charge has adopted the Autism Association (Singapore) as one of its beneficiaries since 2004. Through this partnership, SGX Bull Charge has supported the Eden Centres for Adults (ECFAs) to help adults on the autism spectrum who have already completed their Special School Education but are not yet ready for open or sheltered employment.
The funds raised by SGX Bull Charge throughout the years have helped AA(S) enable their adult day activity centres to provide skills-building programmes to those who need more support in various aspects in life. These programmes allow adults on the autism spectrum to meaningfully engage in activities such as swimming, music, arts and crafts, fitness and health, cooking, baking and travelling.
Muhammad Ghazali, who has high support needs on the autism spectrum, is one such client who has received unwavering support from the AA(S), from the time he joined Eden Children’s Centre in 2003, enrolled in Eden School and now with ECFA. The centre has designed a programme for Ghazali that helped him manage his behaviour and hone his coping skills.
Apart from that, fitness and health programmes were curated to help reduce Ghazali’s excessive weight. After 4 years of dedicated support, Ghazali has improved his communication skills and strengthened his abilities to interact with others in a positive way. Even his diet has changed. Ghazali now eats more fruits as snacks.
Ghazali learning how to make a healthy snack and juice and learning how to swim.
Yu Tang is another client who has benefitted from the various programmes of the AA(S). In 1999, he was included in the pilot programme at the AA(S)’s Autism Youth Centre and stayed in the programme for 10 years. He later joined the Eden Activity Club (EAC) in October 2015, when the Association branched out its services for adults and he was among the first members to join. After two years of participation in EAC’s various social and leisure activities, Yu Tang has built his confidence, trust in his peers and coaches, and eventually progressed to join the ECFA at Clementi.
He has shown keen interest in the personal health and fitness skills programme, which includes yoga and running. In 2018, he even participated in the SGX Bull Charge 5-kilometre run. Indeed, Yu Tang’s journey is one of the many success stories at ECFA.
Yu Tang is a testament to how the ECFA empowers adults on the autism spectrum.
SGX and AA(S) strive to uplift more individuals
This year, as the SGX Bull Charge Charity Run goes virtual, the AA(S) looks forward to an even greater number of SGX Bull Charge participants working together for a noble cause. While COVID-19 has made life even more challenging for adults on the autism spectrum, the AA(S) remains hopeful that activities such as the SGX Bull Charge Charity Run will be a welcome respite from the stresses of the pandemic.
“Singapore could show the world how we continue supporting our needy communities in an innovative way, even during challenging times!”
Mr. Krish Phua, Deputy Executive Director, AA(S)
The AA(S) is optimistic that the community will continue to rally together to offer help to the people severely affected by current global challenges. SGX Bull Charge remains one with the AA(S) in encouraging everyone to unite and help the disadvantaged live better lives.
|AA(S) participants at the annual SGX Bull Charge Charity Run held at the Float @ Marina on 8 November 2019.|