Heartbeat of Fei Yue
This month, we feature Ms Chan Li Yan, our senior Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) teacher at our centre in Jurong East. Our Early Intervention programmes and services is designed to serve children from 0-7 years old who are assessed to be at risk of developmental, intellectual, sensory, or physical learning needs from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and more. The feature is done on an interview basis.
Chan Li Yan
Senior EIPIC Teacher
16 years of sector experience
How long have you worked in Fei Yue, and what is your role here?
I am a senior teacher in the EIPIC division, and I have been working in Fei Yue for four years.
My main role is to oversee the programme serving children with moderate learning needs through curriculum planning, conducting trainings for the teachers as well as supervising some of the teachers and supporting them in the strategies when dealing with the students and their families.
Why did you choose to join Fei Yue?
Prior to joining Fei Yue, a friend of mine who was working in Fei Yue shared how she felt supported and was given space to grow in the company. Hence, I decided to join Fei Yue as I was drawn to the family-like company culture.
Beyond your work, what other services does EIPIC offer?
Our EIPIC team consists of teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists, social workers, and administrative staffs, who work closely to support the families and their child with various learning needs. We also provide the following services:
- Engage, collaborate, and educate families of our students
- Engage and collaborate with the preschool teachers who are also working with our students to enable our students to adapt and be more meaningfully engaged in the preschool setting
- Supporting parents to make informed decision with regards to their child’s post-EIPIC transition, and to ensure a smooth transition for the students
- Engaging parents through workshops (e.g., parent education workshop, school transition workshop) and support groups
- Offer casework services such as financial assistance and counselling services for caregivers
Share something interesting in your journey with Fei Yue.
When I first joined Fei Yue, amongst one of the first few students I taught, I fondly recalled a boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It had been an interesting journey working with this child.
Initially, he started out having difficulties coping with changes, and would insist on having things being the same. For instance, walking the same route from one place to another, playing toys in a certain way, and calling a Mamee noodles “cookie” and not by its actual name. This is a common characteristic of children with ASD.
Many students with ASD develop rigid ways of thinking and lack flexibilities in their thoughts and perceptions. This is because they may be fearful of the unknown that comes with changes, and they struggle with adapting to new demands or information. Therefore, this leads them to have a drive for routines and sameness.
Like many of us, we may also experience uncertainties and fears when there are changes in our life. Understanding this had helped me to reflect and think about how to prepare our children for changes, and to introduce changes one small step at a time.
I am very pleased to see how this boy had blossomed over the years that he was here with us. From a boy who would have a lot of meltdowns due to changes, to subsequently being flexible and successfully transiting into Pathlight school (a special education school for children with ASD). It has indeed been a delightful journey with him.
Let’s be more inclusive – on World Autism Day
World Autism Day is celebrated internationally on 2 April annually. This day aims to better create more awareness through the sharing of positive and accurate information about ASD. It is a day to recognise that each individual with ASD is unique, and to recognise and celebrate their abilities, not looking at their disabilities.
We also hope to create awareness of challenges faced by people with ASD and their families, and seek to create a more inclusive and supportive culture and environment.
Here are some ways to how we can help build a more inclusive culture:
#Tip 1: Avoid stereotyping people with ASD. People with ASD fall on a spectrum! This means that every person with ASD has different skills, challenges, and needs.
#Tip 2: Avoid the quickness to judge or label when we do not understand. They are not naughty, they are not violent. Instead, they may be having difficulties with expressing themselves and understanding perspectives of others. Seek first to understand why they behave how they behave rather than judging them or their families. Just like how we have ‘triggers’ that affect how we behave or react in different situations, so do they. They are like us, they do experience all the different emotions that we do experience, if not more.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role here, and how do you overcome them?
It is frustrating and challenging to work with families that have complex needs. The struggles and challenges are real as creating an environment to help the special needs child thrive, is not easy. I have learnt that teamwork is important, and I do appreciate that within the Fei Yue environment. To help such families, we do need a team of various functions to come together and support the works, as well as the family. I am thankful for my team and supervisors whom I can learn from, and discuss my challenges with, and for the opportunity to learn and to grow with them.
I believe my calling to work in Fei Yue would help to mould and challenge me to move out of my comfort zone, to learn how to trust, be positive and have courage. I am glad that Fei Yue has help me to stay grounded with my faith despite the different challenges faced.
How do you think you can transform and impact lives in your role?
I hope that by living out my passion for children with special needs through working with families and students, and through the sharing of my skills, knowledge and perspectives with my colleagues, I hope to rally more advocates for this population that holds a special place in my heart.
How would you advice your younger self, as someone who just started out in your role?
I would tell my younger self that it is ok to not know everything, you do not have to be harsh on yourself if you are not able to get back to parents immediately when you do not have the answers. Most importantly, you should not be afraid to seek help!
How do you destress?
I take long walks, listen to music, watch dramas and movies, and spend time chilling with friends whenever I am stressed from work.
What are your dreams and aspirations?
I hope to one day enable other demographics and age groups to engage with people with special needs, and help develop a community that is inclusive and diversified. For example, as Singapore faces an aging population, there are many elderly who can contribute and help out in EIPIC centres and engage with the students here.
Summarise your experience in Fei Yue in ONE word!