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Chorister, Crafter, and Future Barista

Name
Sarah Jane
Age
13
Disability
Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) & Mild Intellectual Disability (ID)
The first thing you notice about Sarah is her huge grin. She is chatty and jovial, and eager to share about her interest in singing and colouring. Besides singing in a choir, Sarah goes to regular craft lessons, and enjoys watching movies with her friends and family.

Sarah was officially diagnosed with Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Mild Intellectual Disability (ID) when she was three years old. Olivia, her mother, shared that Sarah did not use to be jovial, and would isolate herself from group activities in pre-school and even at social settings such as her own birthday party. She used to have emotional outbursts, and one of such incidences would be when she screamed and cried in a restaurant when water was accidentally spilled on her dress. During moments such as these, Olivia appreciates the kindness of strangers. She is thankful when strangers show empathy instead of giving rude stares, as after all, Sarah’s behaviour is not because of “bad upbringing”, but her condition.

Today, Sarah studies at Grace Orchard School, and enjoys learning about blood cells, and multiplication tables. Her best friends, Kate, and Yong Tong, treat Sarah like their own sister and are always taking care of her. At school, Sarah is also exposed to vocational education where she learns useful life skills such as basic care and cleaning. Outside of the curriculum, Sarah also attends “My Youth Hub” where youth leaders organise trips to Fort Canning Park, or even the local supermarket.

While Olivia once considered sending Sarah to a mainstream school, she felt it might be too stressful for Sarah, so she decided to give Sarah room to develop and grow at her own pace in a SPED school. Judging from Sarah’s current progress, it seems to have been the most rewarding decision.

When asked about what she would like to do in the future, Sarah mentions that she would like to be a barista. She has Starbucks in her sights, but also desires to work alongside her mother in her mother’s café business.

Despite adulthood being a few years away for Sarah, Olivia is concerned about public mind-sets towards persons with disabilities However, for now she feels happy and reassured knowing there is a growing movement of employers who are hiring people with special needs.

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