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FEB / MAR 16



Listen up now!

4 secrets to communicate better with your child


Common skin conditions during infancy and childhood

The most common childhood disease is…

Loving my child with


Can’t ’m I you seieng say

I love you?

table of contents


CONTENTS 04 Editorial Note 06 Pregnancy

18 Special Needs

08 Health

Coverpage Contest

Beat the morning blues

Itching To Stop

10 Dental

26 The Relationship Issue

The Most Common Childhood Disease

12 Growing up

32 For The Parent

14 Heguru Special

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22 The New Age Parents How Deep Is Your Love Can’t You See I’m Saying I Love You Loving My Child With Autism

Time To Clean Up


Beyond Care and Love: Anatomy Of A Child With Special Needs

Listen Up Now

editorial note

LOVE AND REAL-ATIONSHIPS I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of love. Love can break a man’s pride and make him to do the silliest things. It can also motivate and transform a couple to strive to be the best parents in the world. In this issue, we delve deeper into the L word. How can we cultivate a lifelong relationship of trust, love and authenticity? We address this in How Deep Is Your Love. Showing and expressing love can be in a myriad of form and ways. Heard of the 5 Languages of Love? If you haven’t, head over to Can’t You See I’m Saying I Love You? to discover what’s your primary language of love and at the same time, find out what’s your family’s love language. The journey of nurturing a child with special needs introduces a different level of understanding, care and love. A mother whose son was diagnosed with Autism shares her journey in Loving My Child With Autism. On the same note, our experts dicuss the challenges faced by caregivers in caring and loving a child with special needs in Beyond Care and Love: Anatomy Of A Child With Special Needs. Whether it’s to your child, your spouse, relatives or friends, there are so many ways of saying “I love you”. How can we demonstrate our love to them in ways that they would understand? The answer is simple. We just have to stop – and listen. P.S. Are you a new parent or expecting another baby? Our Parenting with Love Seminar will be happening on 15 May. Mark it down in your calendars today! Join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook for more updates. My best,

Editorial Team EDITOR Michelle Ang WRITERS Dorothea Chow, Som Yew Ya & Jenny Tai CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Hon & Sid Hamid

Art & Design ART DIRECTOR Michelle Ang COVERPAGE MODEL Oh Kai Le Ezekiel PHOTOGRAPHY Photograhpy By Yew Kwang

Marketing & Advertising MARKETING HEAD AND ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Elaine Lau For advertising enquiries, email us at

Web Administration WEB DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Seow Poh Heng FEATURED EXPERTS The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre, The Skin Specialist, The Dental Studio, Julia Gabriel Education Centre & THK Therapy Services (The Children’s Therapy Centre) If you wish to contribute to the magazine, we will love to hear from you. Do email us at For advertising enquiries, email us at advertise@

Do you have any stories, tips or any feedback to share? We love to hear from you! DROP US AN EMAIL AT CONNECT WITH US AT FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM:

While every care is taken in the production of the magazine, the publisher, editor and its team assume no responsibility for any inaccuracies and omission, which might arise. Opinions by the contributors and advertisers are not necessarily those of the publisher and the editor. The articles in the magazine are for references only. If you have any queries on any health condition for you and your child, you should seek professional medical advice.


Beat the morning blues Having difficulties dealing with your morning sickness? Here are 10 ways to ease the discomfort.


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Expert: Dr Ting Hua Sieng O&G Specialist The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre (A subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group) Practice Address: The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre Paragon 290 Orchard Road #16-07/08 Singapore 238859 Tel: (65) 6653 7598

Feeling of nausea is extremely common in pregnancy and it affects more than 50% of all pregnant mothers. It is also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which means excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. In majority of cases, this benign symptom does not pose any harm to the pregnancy or the baby. A small proportion of patients may suffer from severe symptoms which result in dehydration, in which case hospital admission for re-hydration and medical therapy may be required.


Drink enough fluids between meals It is important that you keep yourself well hydrated throughout the pregnancy. During meal times, if you find it hard to drink enough fluid, you must make up to it my drinking more fluid in between meals.


Keep a morning sickness diary By keeping track of your morning sickness throughout the day, you will know better when to eat and drink more when the nausea is better.


Get plenty of rest Lack of sleep, stress and tiredness can make the morning sickness worse. Whenever you can, try to make sure that you rest enough.


Fresh smells Fresh smells help to reduce feeling of nausea, for example sniffing lemon. You can also add lemon slices to your drinks to help reduce the feeling of nausea.







Eat little and often Eating large meals can worsen nausea and make the stomach bloated. Eating little and often helps to maintain sugar levels and reduce feeling of bloating. It is handy to keep light bland snacks to nibble throughout the day. Eat protein-rich foods Eating simple high protein foods can help with nausea, especially those rich in vitamin B, like nuts. It is advisable to avoid rich, spicy, acidic, fatty and fried foods which might trigger nausea. Cold meals can be better than hot ones Sometimes, cooking smells may bring on the feeling of nausea. It may be better to keep to cold meals until the feeling of nausea passed.

Ginger tea When used in moderation, ginger tea can help to reduce nausea. It can be taken in the form of powder, ginger slices and capsules/ tablets.

Try a complementary therapy You may find reflexology and aromatherapy useful in helping you cope with the feeling of nausea. It is advisable that you go to someone who is a qualified therapist and experienced in treating pregnant women. Talk to friends who understand Sometimes, simply by talking and sharing with someone who is experiencing the same symptoms or who understands can help.

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Itching to stop

What are the common skin conditions during infancy and childhood? The skin is the largest organ in our body. It serves a critical function in preserving our bodily integrity. An infant or a child is not a miniature adult. At this extremes of age, the infant skin is constantly growing and maturing.

Expert: Dr Gavin Ong Medical Director and Consultant The Skin Specialist (A subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group) Practice address: The Skin Sepcialist Paragon 290 Orchard Road #13-01 to 06 Singapore 238859 Tel: (65) 6235 2633


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On one hand, the skin’s immune system has yet to be fully developed, on the other, it is constantly being bombarded by harmful agents from the environment ranging from ultraviolet rays to bacteria and viruses.

Common Childhood Rashes ECZEMA Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition that can affect up to a third of children

in developed countries. There are many types of eczema and can be broadly classified into the internal type (endogenous) or the external type (exogenous) eczema. The majority of eczema affecting children is a type of endogenous eczema commonly known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. It is closely related to conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis. Atopic eczema is a skin condition with a very strong genetic influence.

This means that if a parent or sibling has atopic eczema, the baby is at higher risk of developing atopic eczema. The majority of children with atopic eczema will present with a dry and itchy skin by the age of one. There may be episodes of flare-up where the rash becomes weepy, painful and is causing distress to the baby or child. Babies tend to get the rash over their cheeks, necks and elbows whereas older children tend to have their rash in front of their elbows or behind their necks. Management of atopic eczema requires an individualised treatment plan. Often, the plan will include an anti-inflammatory cream, a moisturiser and anti-itch medications. In more severe cases, oral antibiotics and systemic treatments may be necessary. In cases where the control of eczema remains good, there is good suggestion that the eczema will clear up during the adolescent years. MILIA Milia are tiny, white spots that may appear on the baby's face. Affected areas may include the nose, cheeks, chin, forehead, or around the eyes. They normally appear a couple of weeks after birth because the oil glands on the baby's face are still developing. Milia spots should clear up on their own within a few weeks. Do not try to squeeze them or do “extraction” treatment. CRADLE CAP DERMATITIS Cradle cap dermatitis is a fairly common skin condition affecting the newborns. The baby will have a red rash affecting the scalp and the rash can sometimes end up with very thick scales covering

the scalp. These thick scales may flake off, in a way very similar to what we see in adult dandruff. Sometimes these scales may have some hair attached to them when they fall off. Not to worry, cradle cap does not cause baldness in babies. Cradle cap dermatitis can occasionally affect other parts of the baby including the face, neck and groin areas. The thick flaky scales may improve with washing the hair regularly with a very gentle shampoo. In more severe cases, a short term use of a mild medicated shampoo may be required. BABY ACNE You will be surprised to learn that babies can get pimples too! Baby acne may be present at birth but usually appear a few weeks after birth. It looks like small pimples or whiteheads most commonly appearing on the baby's cheeks. These pimples may sometimes also affect the chest and back. Baby acne comes about because of the baby’s exposure to the mother’s high level of female hormones during pregnancy. The high level of female hormones mimic a “puberty” in the baby and causes these pimples to form. Baby acne will disappear on its own without any treatment although this may take weeks, sometime even a few months. In severe cases, topical cream may be helpful. As for the mother, there is little she can do to predict or prevent the development of baby acne. Neither the diet of the mother nor the baby will affect baby acne. NAPPY RASH Nappy rash is a form of eczema that affects the baby’s genitals, bottom, and

the folds of the thighs. It causes a red puffy rash which can sometimes look pimply. The rash can either by wet or dry. It is more common during the first year of life and persistent skin wetness is usually the main cause of nappy rash. Urine and diarrhoea are some of the common reasons for nappy rash. Sometimes, complications may occur where the rash becomes secondarily infected either by yeast or bacteria. Hence it is important to keep the area clean and dry by changing the diapers regularly. Treatment involves using anti-inflammatory creams. Where there is suggestion of a secondary infection, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication to clear the infection. MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin. It can affect both infants and small children. The rash appears as small, round, shiny, pearly white or pinkish spots, some with a dimple in the middle. The spots are usually a few millimetres wide. New spots may develop over several weeks and they may cause itch in some cases. Common areas include the face and trunk. Sometimes the arms and legs can also be affected. Molluscum contagiousum can clear up without treatment but this can take up to 18 months. The doctor can discuss some of the treatment options available which has to take into consideration the age of the child. Even with treatment, it typically take a few weeks for the infection to clear up. Recurrence is not uncommon.

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What is early childhood caries (ECC)? ECC is a disease process whereby bacteria in the mouth digest the sugars and carbohydrates that stick to a child’s teeth after a meal, producing acid. The acid erodes tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities to form on the teeth surface. The cavities get bigger as they are filled with more acid-producing bacteria, eventually causing the teeth to rot and turn brown.

A mother’s stress can lead to her child’s tooth decay

The most common childhood disease AND IT IS NOT ASTHMA, ECZEMA OR CHICKENPOX. Expert: Dr Terry Teo, Paediatric Dentist The Dental Studio (A subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group) Practice address: The Dental Studio Paragon 290 Orchard Road #13-01 to 06 Singapore 238859 Tel: (65) 6836 0050


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The answer is dental decay, more accurately known as early childhood caries (ECC). Yes, decay is an infectious disease. In Singapore, a quarter of all 3 year-old children are affected, and this number rises to half of all children aged 6. We know that poor oral hygiene and high consumption of sugary foods and drinks is the chief cause of ECC in children. But latest research from the UK and US has shown a link between a mother’s stress levels and her child having ECC as well.

The findings, which were published in the American Journal of Public Health, come from a study that analysed the data of 716 toddlers ages 2 to 6. Biological stress markers from mothers were first analysed, then their children were later dentally screened for the presence of ECC. It was found that mums with increased levels of biological stress markers (indicating higher stress levels) had children who were significantly more likely to develop ECC. In order to gain further insight into this finding, the study sought to seek association between maternal stress and care-taking behaviours such as dental visits, breastfeeding and daily breakfasts. Unsurprisingly, highly stressed mothers were less likely to bring their children for regular dental check-ups, which resulted in most dental decay going undetected until the screening. The study also found that mothers who displayed high markers of stress were significantly less likely to breastfeed their children, and that ECC was almost twice as common among

children who were not breastfed. In addition to this, children more at risk of ECC were found to have been not regularly fed breakfast. An explanation to this is that children who are not breastfed or not regularly fed breakfast may be over-reliant on infant formula milk for their daily nutritional needs. Most of the formula milk available is

high in added sugars, and frequent exposure to this especially through a bottle at night causes the formation of ECC on teeth. Although rotten baby teeth eventually do fall out, it has been shown that the biggest predictor of dental decay in adulthood is the presence of ECC in childhood. In addition, healthy baby teeth are

needed for children to properly smile, eat and speak. Baby teeth are also crucial in the maintenance of proper dental spacing for the permanent teeth to grow into their correct positions. Toothaches in rotten baby teeth may lead to dental emergencies, poorer quality of life and unpleasant dental visits.

EXPERT’S NOTES Life in Singapore is fast-paced, which can easily compound the stresses of early motherhood. Here are pointers unique to the local context. 1) Breastmilk is best for baby in terms of nutrition However, breastfeeding and weaning a child off breastmilk is a personal act, which may sometimes involve a complex range of decisions mothers are faced with. Although the study pointed to children who were not breastfed having a higher prevalence of ECC, a strong contributing factor to this could be the use of infant formula milk or worse, a sugary beverage such as juice concentrate, as an alternative drink of choice during

early childhood. When consumed frequently, especially through a bottle before bedtime, the added sugars in these beverage coat the child’s teeth and start the disease process of ECC through the night. 2) Children not being fed breakfast by their mothers were found to be at higher risk of ECC In Singapore, children tend to have more than one caregiver (usually a domestic helper or grandparent), as mums are busy working. The lack of consistent supervision during breakfast by the mother may be unavoidable, but educating the caregiver on how to feed children in the morning is possible. Generally, foods with high sugar contents

should be avoided for breakfast, such as cookies, biscuits, and chocolates. Our local breakfast range also contains much hidden sugars in the form of chocolate spreads, kaya, sweetened soya milk and bread with sweetened fillings such as red-bean paste. Feeding these regularly to children will predispose them to tooth decay. 3) Higher decay rates were found in children who did not have regular dental visits This remains true in any country or context. It is recommended that the child’s first dental check-up be done by the age of one, when the first teeth have erupted. This is because ECC may affect teeth from the moment they come into the

mouth. Early and regular dental visits are vital in detecting ECC in the initially reversible stages, as well as equipping parents with the knowledge and tools for tooth decay prevention all throughout their child’s life. Motherhood is stressful; there is no doubt about that. Although an association has now been found between maternal stress and children’s dental decay, it is still entirely possible for the busy working mom to raise children in excellent oral health. Mothers should also make a conscious effort to take regular time off to relax and de-stress. This will undoubtedly lead to improved health and well-being for mother, child, and the entire family.

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growing up

Time to clean up By Som Yew Ya

Getting your kids to pack or clean up after themselves is never an easy task. For some parents, it may even be a tumultuous challenge. Kids prefer to play, to mess up, to have fun, but the aftermath is often left to worn-out parents to pick up the pieces. Try these six tips to get your kids to clean up after themselves.

1. Make it a habit from day one

Start when your children are old enough to pick toys up or able to lift or put things into small boxes, containers or shelves. Keep it consistent and stick to a routine: play, clear and pack up. One method to overcome clutter is to only your child to start and finish playing with a set of toys, before beginning on the next one.

2. Break it down

Show your kids step-by-step on how to pack and store their things. For example: step one - put the pieces together, step two - move them into the box and step 3 - put the box away on the shelf. Breaking the tasks down into bite sizes helps kids to feel a sense of achievement, and not stare aimlessly at the pile of mess in their room.


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3. Lead by example

Model cleaning and clearing up. Adopt a cheerful attitude when you are going about your own chores. At the same time, don’t be a martyr especially for the older kids. If they old enough to clean up their own rooms, do not keep doing the job for them just because they are not doing it.

4. Regularly declutter

One useful way is to store or move things into archives or storerooms. Chances are, your child has more toys than they can remember or play all at once, or even

once a week. If the toys are out of sight for a while, they may have forgotten about it. Occasionally, you can go back to the storeroom to open an old set of toys or books, and the old becomes ‘new’ again!

6. Balance discipline with rewards

Exercise discipline in various ways, not just through negative punishments. It could be in the form of appropriate rewards, allowing or removing of privileges i.e. iPad time, television time. Show them that you appreciate their efforts, not matter how small or big.

5. Make cleaning up fun

Find creative ways to make cleaning up fun. Add some music, or play a game. For example, ‘the fastest packer’ or ‘the quickest toy-keeper’. It doesn’t always have to be a drag or chore.


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Replicating Heguru Lessons At Home Learning does not only happen in school, it can be further extended or explored at home too. Michelle Hon shows us how she reinforced what she learnt during a Heguru class at home.

If you’ve read my last post on Heguru, you will recall how I find the ‘Parent’s Lecture' given at the end of every class to be very useful. The handout explains the purpose of the activities conducted and how parents can replicate the same teaching methods at home. Here are examples of the


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home activities which I did with my two girls, Lauren and Georgia.

Number activities

These activities aim to improve a child's mental calculation by visualisation, as well as reinforce the number concept.


 To teach subtraction, each child is given a handout consisting of 10 pictures, five on each row. Parents ask their child what is "10 minus 2" and ask him or her to remove two pictures to determine how many is left.  A child is tasked to follow the instructions on a recipe given, count and put the respective number of each ingredient (cheese, onion, tomatoes) on the omelette.  Heguru teachers use an abacus to count 1 to 100.  To teach addition, a worksheet with different objects on each page. A child is tasked to count them and pick the correct number as the answer.

Heguru Special


 I included my girls in baking sessions and asked them to help me count the cups of flour, sugar and butter that were needed. They were also tasked to add a specific number of chocolate chips on each cookie.  For older children, you can also give your child a simple shopping list and challenge them to gather all the required items during your frequent trips to the grocery store. AT HOME

Use lego or big stacking bricks. You’ll need two sets of bricks – one for yourself, and another for your child. Arrange the bricks and show your child for three seconds. Next, have them replicate the pattern of the bricks that you showed earlier.

Link memory / Story memory AT HOME:

 We use our own flash cards. But instead of using 40 cards at one go, we only go up to 10 cards. If you don't have flash cards, you can search for images online and print them out on your own. IN A HEGURU CLASS: The teacher places cards in the order of the story told. We make up a story together based on the order of the cards. Another set of number cards are placed on of the picture cards and children are asked to re-tell the story.

Photographic memory IN A HEGURU CLASS:

 This is taught by flashing an image with three different objects on it. Each child will be asked to place the objects in the correct order.  The teacher will flash a series of numbers on the board and children will have to write the numbers down on their worksheets.


Memory match game. Lauren and Georgia absolutely love this Frozen memory match cards. I spread the cards face down on a flat surface. They take turns turning over two cards at a time. If two cards are turned over are the same, it stays face up. If the cards do not match, cards are turned back over in the same place until all matches are found.


ESP, or extrasensory perception, is believed to be one of right brain's abilities. All babies are born with this ability but as we grow, we move from right brain predominance to left brain predominance, and eventually lose this extrasensory ability. By training the right brain and practicing ESP while young, it helps to maintain the ability and balance out the right brain and left brain predominance as we grow older. ESP is broken down into five categories: Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Precognition, Tactility and Telekinesis. While we are not bending spoons with our minds in class, here are some example of ESP activities the kids do. IN A HEGURU CLASS:

 Telepathy: The teacher shows three different images to the class. She picks one without showing it to the children. She ‘sends’ the image she picked to the child via telepathy. Given a few different cards, each child is to pick the correct one based on the image they have received in their mind from the teacher.  Clairvoyance: Teacher shuffles two cards facing down - one with yellow dots and another with blue dots. Children attempt to “see” through the cards and pick the right one with the yellow dots.  Precognition: While the teachers shuffles a deck of cards, she asks each child to guess the final card that would end up at the top of the deck before she stops shuffling.


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 Right before I hand the girls their M&Ms chocolate or jelly beans, I make them guess the colour of the chocolate or jelly bean and which hand is holding on to their treat.  Lauren is very specific about which outfit she wears every day. I ask her to guess which drawer has the particular clothing.  I put three lego blocks (red, blue, yellow) in a bag and ask the girls (one at a time) to reach in, grab a block and guess which colour she is holding.

I used flashcards and ask Lauren and Georgia to sort them according to their categories, like furniture, food, vegetables, animals etc. Ours is in Chinese, so I'm teaching them another language at the same time!


Children learn to associate items with their categories. It expands their general knowledge by exposing them to different items and their similarities of the same group. IN A HEGURU CLASS:

 Children are asked to place items into boxes with shop names on them - Bakery, Bookshop, Florist, Fruits.  Children learn to identify living things and non-living things. They will classify living things and non-living things accordingly. For example, people, animal, plants (living things) and nature and manmade items (non-living things).

Odd one out

Taking categorising a step further, this activity strengthens the observation skill and cognitive thinking of a child as she needs to first examine all the items in the category, come to a conclusion what is the stated category before eliminating the odd item out. IN A HEGURU CLASS:

 A child is given a 'X' and tasked to place it on the item that doesn't belong to the category.



 When we do our grocery shopping, I often ask the girls which section of the supermarket to find a specific item. For example – ‘bread from the bakery’, ‘orange from the fruit section’ and ‘milk from the dairy fridge’.

 On a daily basis, I often point out a group of things and get the girls to name the odd one out. For example, a grey car in a row of white cars in a parking lot, a boy with a group of girls or a rugby ball in a basket of round balls.

Heguru Special

Learning alphabets



It is crucial for children to be able to recognise alphabets and the phonetic sounds connected to the alphabets in order to be literate.

 Children learn by tracing the letters with their fingers and a pencil.  They read simple poems, emphasising on specific sounds and spin letters and pictures on a roulette.

 I jumble up alphabet blocks, pick one out, ask my girls to sound it out, and give an example of words which starts with the same alphabet. Georgia loves getting the letter 'G' because she can proudly says 'G' is for Georgia.

Always remember to have fun!

‘Parent's Lecture’ - always remember to encourage and praise your child. Every child enjoys learning in a positive environment. This is the third part of The New Age Parents and Heguru Education series. In the next part, Mum Blogger Michelle Hon will share how much her girls have progressed since their first lesson at Heguru six months ago. Heguru Education Centre has a new branch at Punggol Waterway Point! Call 6385 1588 to find out more or check out their website:

MICHELLE HON is a mother of two, writer and founder of The Chill Mom Baby Planner & Maternity Concierge. A certified early childhood educator, she has helped many busy mothers-to-be plan and manage the arrival of their babies. Michelle has been featured on The Asian Entrepreneur, Harper’s Bazaar Kids and The Asian Parent. Besides being a contributing writer at The New Age Parents, Michelle shares her motherhood tips and experience on her website at

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to conduct right brain training lessons at home. Most importantly, make it fun for your child. All the activities listed here takes less than five minutes to complete. I aim to do at least two to three activities with the girls every day. You can also purchase the lessons materials directly from the various Heguru Education Centre branches. As it says at the bottom of every

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special needs

Beyond Care and Love Anatomy Of A Child With Special Needs

How can parents, family members, professionals and the community understand and genuinely care for a child who is different from the rest?


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Experts: Cher Poh Gaik (left) & Shermin Fong (right) Speech Therapists THK Therapy Services

The term special needs can be taken as an umbrella term for many medical diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Downs Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Cerebral Palsy, which may result in any combination of the following, at differing levels of severity: 1) Developmental delays 2) Physical or cognitive impairments 3) Psychiatric or emotional issues 4) Learning disabilities

Strengths and limitations, needs and aversions

As with any other individual, a child with special needs will come with their own personality, interests and aversions, as well as strengths and weaknesses. It is up to the people closest to the child to explore what these may be. Doing so will not only improve the child's (and family's) quality of life, but also show those involved how to best support their growth and development, be it the family members, teachers, or therapists. Knowing the child's physical or cognitive needs can help caregivers, therapists and educators frame their approaches for the child to be in the best possible state of mind to attend, learn, and participate in their learning environment so that they can be ready to learn. Knowing the child's talents or interests will equip professionals with the tools to care for and teach them. A child with special needs may not have the emotional or cognitive maturity to tolerate topics or tasks which are not within their areas of

interest. By packaging what the child needs for their development within their area of interests will make teaching and learning more effective. To illustrate better, here are some examples: Your child is unable to sit still In majority of cases, this behaviour is not within their control. Rather than being "naughty", the inability to stay seated may well be a direct result of their condition: perhaps they need to keep moving in order to stay calm in stressful situations. Knowing why this is the case would allow us to support this child's learning by employing strategies such as replacing a chair with a therapy ball so the child can bounce in place, thereby allowing them to focus. Your child "doesn't listen" Perhaps this is because they understand pictures much better than spoken words--if so, communicate or teach with drawings rather than by talking. Your child "refuses to do work" such as fine motor work via tracing worksheets If so, replace the worksheet with one that contains pictures of their favourite cartoon character. Your child "doesn't want to talk" Is it because they are not ready for it, or because there aren't sufficient motivating factors such as a clear need to speak? Perhaps your child is good at drawing. If so, they can illustrate their day at school instead of using words to tell you. One of the most important and difficult aspects in caring for a child with special needs is acceptance, and then the adjustment of hopes and expectations. Knowing what we know about their condition and associated

impacts on their physical, cognitive and emotional development, and also what is realistic? Unrealistic expectations of the child increases the risk of frustration, disappointment and stress, which might in turn affect everyone's quality of life. Determining what realistic is for each child usually requires in-depth discussion with healthcare professionals as well as a good amount of reflection and instinct on the part of their caregivers.

Challenges faced by children with special needs

Children with special needs face many challenges in their daily life which typically-developing children may not. The following is a summary of three areas in which children of special needs may have difficulties with. 1. SOCIAL

Children with special needs may experience difficulty in communicating and playing with their peers. They may not understand the ‘unspoken’ social rules that you and I know intuitively. For example, not knowing the importance of looking at the person when talking to them may result in difficulties making friends. They may also have difficulty integrating into their class because they exhibit disruptive behaviours such as table banging or sudden shouting. 2. ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (ADL)

ADLs are basic tasks we do every day such as going to the toilet and getting

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special needs

dressed. For most children, these tasks are learnt relatively easily and become part of their daily routine. For children with special needs, these activities might be more challenging for them to complete due to physical and/or cognitive limitations. They may require therapy to learn to dress themselves, or to sequence the steps involved in brushing their teeth. 3. ACADEMICS

Children with special needs learn differently from most children who are typically-developing. Often they need to be placed in a conducive environment that addresses their needs and taps into their strengths to facilitate their learning.

Challenges faced by caregivers

Parents of children with special needs have to deal with a number of challenges. Even though each child is different, there are some common issues their caregivers face. You need to understand, attune yourself to, and then manage the physical and emotional needs of your child, whilst possibly managing various medical appointments and financial burdens. If you have other children, you may feel pulled in different directions and possibly feel like you are neglecting them. You may find it difficult to reconcile your hopes for your child with how they are. You may feel isolated from the community or even from friends and fellow parents because your child is perceived as different. Taken together, you may feel angry, overwhelmed, guilty,


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incompetent and isolated. It is important that you are aware of these emotions and address them as soon as possible so that you can better care for your child.

Caring and supporting children with special needs

Other than providing unconditional love and support, parents should learn to accept the child for who they are. Look past their limitations and see their strengths. What is my child good at? What do they like? How can I capitalize on that? There are currently 20 Special Education (SPED) schools in Singapore that are driven to equip children with special needs with the knowledge and skills to lead independent and meaningful lives. More information about the schools can be found on the Ministry of Education website:

schoollist/ Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Physiotherapists are professionals who can provide additional interventions for children with special needs in terms of communication, ADL, and physical limitations respectively.

Support for parents of children with special needs

Understand your limitations. It is alright to take a break and to seek additional support from relatives or friends. It is important to have some time to yourself to pursue your interests: you may consider arranging for caregiver reprieve. Sometimes talking to people who are in similar situations might help; parent support groups are available in Singapore. One such group is organized by the Rainbow Centre. More information can be found on their website:







Oh Kai Le Ezekiel


Laila Inaayah Binte Muhammad Ramdan

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Josh Tiah

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Preparing Your Child For Primary School





Love? How Deep Is Your

Adults are wired for intimacy and relationship - so are children. Dorothea Chow shares how we can cultivate a lifelong relationship of trust, love and authenticity.


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#1 Know and speak your child’s Love Language According to esteemed writer Dr Gary Chapman, all of us – parents and children alike – have a “love tank” within us waiting to be filled. While teaching and disciplining is a huge part of parenting, too often we forget that what our children need most from us is our love. Love, is the foundation to successful parenting, not clever strategies or the best schools In his books, The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children, Dr Chapman outlines the five main ways people feel loved – Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Discover

your child’s primary love language, and seek ways to keep their love tank “full”. While you’re at it, why not do The Five Love Languages with your spouse, so that you can both keep each other’s love tank’s full? Happy parents and a happy marriage will definitely contribute to a happy, healthy child. And besides, if your own love tank isn’t full, it’s going to be hard for you to love your child with all you’ve got. You can take the quiz online here:

#2 Accept your child for who they are

No child likes to be constantly held up against a benchmark and told - directly or subtly - that they don’t measure up. Comparisons and criticism are a sure-fire way to get your child’s defenses up and block that deeper connection that you long for. While this certainly does not mean you don’t hold your child to a certain standard or encourage them to do their best and learn from their mistakes, parents need to be careful about the messages they are sending their children through the things they say and do. Does your child know that you love them “no matter what”? Do they feel secure in that love, or do they need to earn your affection and trust? Do they feel cornered and like they are always living in your shadow, or the shadow of their siblings?

#3 Respect your child’s choices Closely linked to the theme of acceptance is a little word called “respect”. It’s so much easier to tell our kids what to do all the time than to seek their opinion. It’s harder to trust the choices they make, especially

when we don’t agree with it. However, our children need to learn to make decisions on their own, and our respect for the choices that they make and the willingness to support them in seeing those choices through mean a lot to them.That’s not to say, however, that we let our children make all their own decisions and just roll with the punches. Seek to allow your children to make decisions at age-appropriate stages, and don’t show a black face if those choices aren’t quite the ones that you would make. As long as no one is in danger or breaking the law, ask yourself the

with our child, but drive rifts into the relationship. Seek to treat each episode discretely, and don’t drag the past into it every chance you get. It’s also wise to avoid an accusatory tone when you are clarifying things with your child. There are always two sides to a story and sometimes, what our children need most is our willingness to listen and see their perspective – not necessarily to agree. For example, if a habit recurs regularly, you might want to say, “It seems like this happens quite a lot now. What can we do about that?” instead of

LOVE IS THE FOUNDATION TO SUCCESSFUL PARENTING, NOT CLEVER STRATEGIES OR THE BEST SCHOOLS. question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And the best thing? Your child could gain much needed confidence and self esteem from the autonomy to make a key decision, and be greatly encouraged by your willingness to let them take the wheel for a change.

#4 Listen, and leave the past behind

How we see the present is almost always coloured by our past experiences, good and bad. In the world of parenting, it’s no different. Too often, we use phrases like “you always…” and “you never…”. While these may certainly be true, such words do nothing to forge a deeper bond

“You always do this! What’s wrong with you?” At the heart, it’s about coming alongside your child to help him on his way, one step at a time, instead of dictating his behavior from the side. The truth is, our children can very well drive us up the wall. Some days, it can even feel that the deep parentchild or husband-wife bond that we so desire is as elusive as chasing after the wind. Perhaps, you have tried some of these ideas, and haven’t met with much success. But don’t despair. Try something else, get feedback from friends you trust, and keep going. If nothing else, your child will eventually see the effort you are making, and trust that it will mean something to them.

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I Love You? Since becoming a mother herself, Jenny Tai discovered one of the trickiest parts of parenting – demonstrating her love to her child in ways that she would understand. Every time I got in trouble as a kid, my mum would say, "It's because I love you that I'm scolding you. If I didn't love you, I'd just let you get away with this kind of behaviour." Are you kidding? I thought. My young self was convinced that if she really loved me, she wouldn't be so harsh and critical. I wished she'd say "Good job" or "I love you" more - but that just wasn't her way.

What are the 5 Love Languages? In The 5 Love Languages of Children, Dr. Gary Chapman introduces the five basic ways to express and experience love. Take a look below to see which rings true for your child:


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1. Words of Affirmation -- Your child feels most loved when they hear encouragements like, "You did well!" or "You're #1!" 2. Acts of Service -- Your child loves it when you do nice things for them, such as helping them with projects or practicing sports together. 3. Receiving Gifts -- Your child feels the most loved when they receive presents and surprises.

4. Quality Time -- What's most important to your child is having your undivided attention during special bonding time. 5. Physical Touch -- Nothing makes your child feel more loved than hugs, kisses, holding hands, and cuddling. You could spend hundreds of hours helping your kids study for their PSLE and chaperoning them to swimming lessons, but for all your effort and acts of service, maybe their

love language is actually Physical Touch. So what they really crave is receiving daily hugs from you.

Why take the quiz?

The key to meeting our kids' need for love, or filling up their "love tank," is to express our love in a way that corresponds with their primary love language. Kids who have full love tanks are emotionally healthy and secure. An even better idea is to ensure that the whole family's love tank is full. After taking the 5 Love Languages quiz with my husband and daughter, I discovered that while I may know exactly how much my husband liked his work clothes organised (colour-coded, pants on the right side) and what my daughter's favourite snacks were (bread and macadamia nuts), I had yet to know their primary love languages. It's exciting that even though I am familiar with the intricacies of our family life and thought I knew everything there was to know about them, I could still make big discoveries about them. And not just any discovery, but one that helps me communicate my love more effectively.

Learning each others' love languages

I didn’t expect my husband's primary love language to be Words of Affirmation. Mine was too, which I suspected already. I'm the kind of person who could live off a single compliment for a month. My sensitivity makes me easily affected

by other people's feedback and praise. But my husband? He had always appeared surefooted and unchanged by others' opinions, so I would never have guessed that he also felt his best when he received Words of Affirmation. All this time I thought the way to his heart was through gifts! As it turned out, according to the test, neither of us cared much for receiving gifts. However, there was one person who did care a whole lot about getting presents... and that was our daughter. She had always been tremendously vocal about her Christmas and birthday wish lists (with lots of Frozen toys and dresses), putting them together months in advance. But then again, which kid doesn't go crazy for presents? The part that surprised me about my daughter's test results was that she had a duo primary love language. Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch were tied for the highest score and, unlike her parents, Words of Affirmation ranked lowest. I guess some of our "good job's" could be traded in for more rewards and hugs and kisses.

Affirmation. Most mummies out there know that after we become parents, we go through instances when we wonder if we're as attractive as we were before we gave birth. We shop more for our kids' clothes than our own, and running after them is our new cardio because it's tough to squeeze in gym time. So when my husband told me recently that I looked nice, I positively glowed. More compliments, please! As for my daughter, now whenever she is distressed I comfort her with my arms and not just my words. Sometimes just holding her is enough to calm her tears. It's my fool-proof way of saying "I love you" to her. That, and maybe a feel-better gift in the form of a candy or two.

Applying the results

Once all of our primary love languages were out in the open, it was time to apply them. The whole point of the 5 Love Languages is to build each other up. Already, I could see that my husband was customizing the way he communicates with me based on how much I prize Words of

Jenny with her husband and daughter Chloe

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Sid Hamid is a Consultant Occupational Therapist and Founder & Director of Oxytoseen Pte. Ltd. He has more than 10 years of clinical experience as a consultant occupational therapist and is a transformational coach, author, speaker and trainer. He has dedicated his life’s work to unearthing the hidden potential of children with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning, behavioural and performance challenges.


Photos courtesy of Rilvia Len

Loving A Child with Autism A mother’s courage and conviction to love her child with autism should be celebrated. The journey of nurturing a child with special needs definitely introduces a level of love that few would be able to understand and embrace. Sid Hamid speaks to mother Rilvia Len, about her journey with her 6 year-old son Raphael, who has autism.


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How did you figure out that Raphael was a child with autism? At first, I realized that he was different from other kids as he does not have any eye contact with us or when we call his name, he does not answer us at all. This was when he was one. At 1.5 years old, we brought him to our paediatrician to check and she referred us to the Child Developmental Unit (CDU) and from there, we followed up with the psychologist. Then, we couldn’t do a diagnostic assessment but we told her about the symptoms and they suspected that he has autism. At the age of 3, we did the IQ assessment and a month later, we got the report. We were very anxious then because we did not know what to do and what his future path would be like. Autism was really new to me at that time and we have been reading a lot of websites, searching for research that could help him. After he was diagnosed,

we enrolled him in an Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) school. From there, I started my special journey with him. What were the struggles and challenges that you had to face in your life after he was diagnosed with Autism? It was sad to say that some of my family members cannot take it and they also thought it was my fault. This family issue was the most challenging because they did not understand and have said many bad things about Raphael and myself. It has taken me a few years to go overcome this. With the help of professionals such as teachers and CDU psychologist and some parents from the EIPIC centre, they helped and taught me a lot about what to do, where to start and ensured that I did not waste money on other resources. At 3, I started to do private occupational therapy (OT) and speech-language therapy (SLT) as he only received once a month and once a fortnight session respectively back at his school. His improvement was very slow and since I was still working then, I was stressed out because I had to take care of him as well. I totally had no patience with him. I got very, very tired and screamed at him most of the time. I did not observe him and he was not close to me at all. When he turned 4, I decided to quit my job and became a full time mum. I was worried back then

because I have never stopped work ever to look after a child. I was afraid that I could not handle him as well because he always had bad tantrums then. Since I stopped working and looked after him 24/7, I started to realize that I really could not handle him at first. I had to continue seeking help from my occupational and speech-language therapist. They gave me good advice and told me what to do, especially how I should calm myself and handle my child. Within a year of learning from them, I learnt some great tips that made me the mother I am today. What are the happiest moments for you and Raphael? The biggest challenge for me now is asking him to imitate what to say. Before, I find it difficult to engage him in daily work tasks and activities due to his short attention span. However, I can now get hold of him progressively from 10 to 15, to 30 minutes to do these tasks together and today, we share a very close bond. The maximum number of hours I can sit with him is 1.5 hours by doing a variety of tasks together with much fewer breaks and not as bad as compared to before. The happiest moment is really just about spending time together with him, seeing him grow and learning things that I taught him. As for his independent living skills, he picks it up very fast. Even though he has not many

words and can only imitate five words in a sentence, still requiring visual cues & verbal prompts, he is still doing well and I am glad that I could still be there to assist him especially when it is still hard for people to understand what he needs and wants. What would be your message to new mums or parents who are beginning their journey with their child with autism? Please seek for help if you need advice. Do not hide or be negative about your child with autism. They would definitely outgrow certain “traits� and we just need to continue to help them learn new skills and create more opportunities for them for their future.

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for the parent

Listen Up Now!

Do you find yourself endlessly repeating a request to your child, only to receive no response at all? Exasperated, your request morphs into constant nagging until finally you resort to “If you don’t do what I say now the consequences will be dire!” Nobody ends up feeling great about themselves and the cycle merely continues.


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Expert: Fiona Walker, Principal Of Schools & CEO, Julia Gabriel Education

How can I communicate better with my child? Put yourself in your child’s shoes for a moment. Just like you, they have their own preoccupations, concerns and priorities. Think about it - would you like to be interrupted in the middle of a favourite activity, your concentration broken, your sense of enjoyment shattered, because someone intrudes

into your space demanding you do something there and then? Children pass through numerous milestones as they develop. They are bombarded continuously with millions of stimuli; there’s a great deal to take in. When they blank out and switch off, or if they need extensive coaxing to move from time to time, it’s hardly surprising! Unfortunately, our busy lives mean we have to adhere to schedules to get things done. So what’s the catch? Finding the right balance between nurturing our children with love and compassion, allowing them the freedom to make mistakes as they find their own way, while simultaneously steering them in a safe and healthy direction that leads to their success, fulfilment and happiness (and ours as parents), is no easy task! How can we find a way of parenting that engages children in a positive, healthy communication, which is realistic at the same time? A good starting point is to take a look at your own parenting style and consider the effect this has on your child. The two most contrasting styles are termed as Autocratic and Permissive. What sort of language do you use when speaking with your child? Is your tone authoritative and demanding, tolerant or indulgent? When you ask your child to do something is it really necessary at that moment or is it more about your need for control? And how do you react to certain behaviours in your child? Do

you mete out punishment if they do not listen? Or are you exceedingly liberal? What about your child? Our own upbringing, background and cultural experiences colour the parents we

become, so much so that we can fail to recognise the distinctive characteristics and temperament of our children. It can come as a shock when we realise they are not carbon copies of us or their siblings!

HOW TO COMMUNICATE BETTER WITH YOUR CHILD 1. Positive communication Do you find yourself shouting at your child from another room - “Turn off the TV!“- Instead of going up to him, getting down to his level to gain his attention and modelling the positive communication you would like in return? Try doing this next time. 2. Let all expectations be known Calmly state your expectations from the outset, keeping explanations short and simple, using one or two-word reminders later if necessary. “Teeth please!” With some simple routines and

clear instructions in place, given time, your child will understand what’s expected of him. 3. State the facts and offer other options Empower your child with facts and realistic options that allow her to make independent choices that lead to positive learning experiences, rather than unattainable goals. For example, if the bedtime routine is bath - teeth cleaning - story time, but your child repeatedly wants to skip straight to the story, offer her a choice that she can reasonably figure out herself. “Ok, you don’t have to bathe or clean your teeth tonight, but that

means no story too. Or you can enjoy the story as soon as you’ve had a bath and cleaned your teeth. What would you like to do?” 4. It goes both ways Good communication is a two-way process. Stop what you are doing when your child talks to you and listen to what he has to say. Model good listening if you want him to do the same! If you want to communicate better with your child it may mean changing tack. As you find an approach that results in a greater balance of mutual listening and talking, you’ll find you gain the rewards of mutual trust and respect in the process.

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The New Age Parents Feb Mar 16  

The New Age Parents Feb Mar 16

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