Karen, 8 years old

Karen, a special needs child diagnosed with mild intellectual disability, attended a mainstream neighbourhood school. Her mother, a divorcee, could not take care of her after school as she was working. Even sending Karen to school was a challenge; the girl would scream and shout every morning and refuse to attend class, even after the school’s counsellors tried to calm her down.

Karen’s school advised her mother to enrol her in a special education school, but she refused. She did, however, allow her to be enrolled at CITY’s student care centre. But she had trouble mixing with her classmates. She would keep to herself, refused to respond to others, and would not eat anything offered to her. While she could not read or write, Karen could draw very well. She would always draw a family of two adults and children, point to one of the girls and say her name. She also drew many pictures of a person being cut with a knife and blood flowing, but would not talk about these pictures.

CITY staff worked with Karen patiently and gently, coaxing her to speak over several weeks before she began to respond in single words and gestures, and indicate that she was hungry. When CITY staff discovered Karen’s interest in dancing, they got her to join CITY’s enrichment classes, which she enjoyed. Over time, she even showed a growing willingness to attend school and student care. When Karen’s mother could not be contacted to fetch her home after student care, CITY staff would take her home. CITY also sponsored Karen’s student care fees.

Eventually, Karen’s father stepped in to take over the care of Karen, and moved her to stay with her older brother. Karen is now in a special education school and is doing very well.

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