It started off with a liking for working with kids, and in a blink of an eye, two years as an Occupational Therapist have already flown by, and I certainly am as passionate as ever despite the many challenges along the way.
Often, I would hear parents comment that therapy work is hard, as I would have to endure challenging behaviours and stay strong physically and mentally. I would always respond with a smile, “Yes it is, but the rewards are also beyond words.”
The little ones constantly remind me how realistic, yet delightful the world is.
Through them, I have learnt to appreciate the simplest things around me and not take them for granted, for instance, the ability to care for myself or to get ice cream from the provision store just a street across the apartment. These are the very things the children struggle to do, and may take them years (not days) to be trained. Even as a therapist, I cannot say that I am able to fully comprehend the difficulties they face, I can only try to put myself in their shoes, offer whatever assistance they require, and pray, a lot.
The struggles families face
In my short two-year stint as an Occupational therapist, I was made more aware of the struggles encountered by the families to care for the children with extra needs, and how these difficulties could tear up an initially harmonious and loving family. However, on a brighter note, I have also witnessed families which have bonded ever more closely despite all!
I have come across families that are supportive of a child’s disabilities, and also, families that have subjected their little ones to neglect and abuse. I used to think that the fault of being subjected to such unfavourable circumstances would surely lie with the parents or guardians.
Nothing is absolute
However, along the way, I have learnt that nothing is absolute. There are simply too many unexpected challenges that have resulted in the way we ‘see’ things, and if we were to open our hearts and follow their lead, we might learn to understand more.
Many times, I wish I could do more to help. Even though it is impossible to change anything at that particular moment, I hold on to the belief that their little lives would improve if we, as a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) were to persist and work together.
For most of us, work does not end at 6 o’clock sharp daily but seldom do we complain. As we serve the children and their families, we know that we are also gaining something deeper and of more value in our very own lives, something that money cannot buy.
At the end of every contact, I cannot help but wonder if I am as special to the little ones as they are to me. Thank you to each and every one of the children I have come across. Thank you for painting my world with colours, every single day.
“You’re braver than you think, stronger than you seem, more amazing than you think you are.”
Rachelle Chan, an Occupational Therapist at THK Therapy Services (The Children’s Therapy Centre).
Rachelle Chan graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a Diploma in Occupational Therapy. With a keen interest in working with the paediatrics population, she will be pursuing her BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy at the United Kingdom, Edinburgh this September. Upon returning, she hopes to advocate for greater inclusion for children with special needs in Singapore.
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