I was cleaning the windows of my center due to the huge amount of finger prints left behind after a busy weekend of classes. It was Monday afternoon and there usually ain’t any enquiries. Then she appeared. I noticed how lost she looked in her eyes and almost thought she was just asking for directions.
“I would like to make an enquiry please,” the lady began.
OK, I was wrong. I quickly led her to a seat at our counter and put away my rag and glass cleaner. I asked her how old her kid was so I could recommend the right program to her. To this question, she told me it was a long story… I was bewildered. Age had never occurred to me to possibly contain a “long story”. I straightened my seat and got myself ready for it. I noticed how beautiful her eyes were yet sorrowful at the same time as she related her story to me.
She had recently received her son’s psychological report that he was suffering from ADD. My judgemental self told myself that, “Alright, small issue…”. She continued, “He was kicked out of kindergarten because of the report.”
I was aghast and immediately cast the question, “What school is that?”. To be exact, in my mind, I was screaming at the absurd and disgusting reaction of the school. That was the first I’ve heard of schools that would be so blatant in ostracizing children with special needs to the point that they would openly ask the parents to withdraw their children immediately. The forgiving mother, though, did not wish to disclose the name of the school to me and I knew, I had to collect myself to continue offering the professional advice that I am capable of providing her.
Before coming to me, she had in fact enquired at all the nearby kindergartens and was turned away either due to a lack of vacancy or they were not willing to take in a child with ADD.
At this, I couldn’t help but interrupted her to let her know that many researchers had already agreed that ADD doesn’t exist, that there is even an institution dedicated to “treating” children with ADD by putting their parents through parenting courses.
She held my hands and said, “Thank you for telling me this, it’s really nice talking to you.”
“He was really upset, he kept asking me why he was not sent to school. He loves learning and wanted to attend school so much. Does your center accept ADD children?” the lovely mother continued.
Tears welled up in my eyes. The poor chap had to suffer because the society had sought the easy way out in labeling these beautiful souls with a nasty name that causes nothing but suffering.
Without hesitation, I told her, “Mdm, ADD children does not exist in my center.” She looked at me with bewilderment, as if already accusing me of hypocrisy in her mind. I continued, “Children who are diagnosed with ADD blends in perfectly in our classes, one wouldn’t be able to tell he’s an ADD.”
She could not believe what she was hearing and asked me to explain how we have managed to do that.
It’s very simple actually. At ILLAC, all our lessons are activities based, customised to the learning ability of the child. Students aged two to six goes through a “sorting” activity to determine his learning ability before being allocated into a class. Inside, learning is extremely hands-on, fast-paced, challenging and filled with fun, music and movement to stimulate their working memory, mental flexibility and inhibitory control. We also do breathing exercises and self-awareness activities to help students improve in their self-regulation so that they can blend easily into a big class setting in primary 1. Students aged 7 to 13 are given worksheets appropriate to their ability and customised to their needs. Students are challenged and motivated to achieve greater heights with our goal-setting activities, speed reading training and character education discussions, all within the two hours time frame of each lesson. Most interesting of all, our Primary 1-Secondary students sit on gym balls and they are free to bounce and waggle all they like while working in ILLAC. There is never a dull-moment in the classroom of ILLAC and none of our students would end up walking around restlessly or drifting out of task.
At this point, I could see sparkles in her eyes. She could already envision her child in our classroom and not feel let down by the society again.
She held my hands and shook it with gratitude for my sharing with her.
She and her son are the reasons why I run my center, to make a difference in the lives of those who were academically-rejected and to shed light to point the right direction when all seem lost.
I went back to cleaning my windows as soon as her registration was done, with a different sense of accomplishment and purpose.