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Over the weekend, I had the privilege to hear Dr Stephen Shore speak on autism.

Dr Shore wrote the book Understanding Autism for Dummies. That however, isn’t the reason he’s an autism expert. The man has autism himself.

As a child, Dr Shore was diagnosed with “atypical development with strong autistic tendencies” and recommended for institutionalisation. Instead, his parents engaged him in play, music and movement, many of which have official sounding names now like Floortime and Miller Method, in order to “reach into his world”.

Today, Dr Shore is a professor of special education at Adelphi University. He is married for 25 years now and speaks candidly of navigating the dating scene in high school and college.

The two-day seminar with Dr Shore gave us valuable insight into autism and what it is like for someone on the spectrum. Besides intervention and teaching methods, he also spoke about self-advocacy and employment issues, which I feel are very pertinent to the situation in Singapore.

Without looking at the number of undiagnosed/misdiagnosed adults, there are 600 to 700 children diagnosed with autism in Singapore every year. These kids are going to grow up, those in school now are going to be adults in just a few years, and the question is: Will they be ready to live in society? More importantly, is society ready for them?

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