I always had a feeling that I will be moving overseas even though I didn’t have any concrete plans on “uprooting” myself from family and close friends when I was younger.
I moved to Singapore in 2008 without any family or close friends to welcome me in the Lion City and took the leap. Fast forward to 2017, I got married and was blessed to have a baby with special needs.
Initially, I entertained the idea of going home where Marian can be surrounded by a more familiar environment, but my husband wanted to stay in Singapore because he believed that Marian can get better support with her condition.
My initial thoughts were:
1. Is there a support group for mums like me in Singapore?
2. How would she get an (inclusive) education in a foreign land?
3. When she becomes older, what would be her job opportunities so she can sustain herself and be independent?
A few months after Marian was born, I found a local support group organized by @simplylambchops. She has launched her own blog of the same name to record her parenthood journey to 3 kids, including Kayleen, who has Down syndrome. The group was like an anchor to me in the first few months of mummyhood. I felt that I wasn’t alone and that we share the same love, worry and fear over our children with special needs. It was comforting that people I hardly know support my frustrations, challenges and triumphs because we were in the same boat.
Next question was how can she get accepted in school. We sought guidance from @NUHig Kids Clinic where they recommended schools that are inclusive and were willing to accept my child. We found a school quite near to our home and enrolled Marian where she is the only child with Down syndrome among neuro-typical children (10:2 kids-teacher ratio).
From the time she started early intervention, she has improved tremendously and is now uttering 3-4 words. The next question is, will this be enough to get her into school and get a job in future where she can sustain herself?
Only time will tell and I sincerely hope that Singapore is able to look into the plight of kids with Down syndrome and their employability. The journey is long and far and may be challenging for the most part, but I am confident that Singapore will be able to support our kids so that they can lead more fulfilling and independent lives.