In the Least Likeliest of Places

People, Singapore

It’s an unexpected place for an autistic kid to find friends.

Yet on two different accounts, it is where friendships have reportedly been forged.

One parent said that his son had a friend who became his unofficial study buddy. This friend would regularly get him to study together in school or at the library.

He calls the boy “an angel” and even goes as far to credit him for helping his son pass the final examinations.

Another parent said that her son was no longer bullied and was even asked to go on outings.

She feels that he was finally in a place where he was simply accepted for his differences.

It’s not therapy.

It’s not a special school for students with autism.

It’s the Institute of Technical Education, or more commonly known as ITE.

Before you call me out for being elitist (because I expressed surprise over something good that came out of ITE), allow me to say that I’d have been equally surprised if this were to have happened in any junior college or polytechnic.

Simply because students in these tertiary institutions are mostly still kids.

It’s quite common to hear of autistic individuals thriving in universities. One reason is that students get to focus on a specialisation. Another reason is that university entrants are usually hitting their twenties and have by this age, realised that kindness is an option when responding to someone who seems odd to them.

So for kids in ITE to take an autistic individual as one of them is something I did not quite expect.

Neither did these two parents.

Their respective sons had gone through mainstream education enduring much bullying and embarrassment and they hadn’t expect ITE to be any different.

Yet it was a world of difference.

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