A few days ago, I mused on Facebook about TOUCH volunteering its people as part of our nation’s birthday.

Today is a video that I personally thought was very touching.

Never judge a person by external appearanceCredits: Bus Stop Films

Posted by TU EDM on Saturday, 3 August 2019

When we look at people with learning needs and disabilities, we are often shrouded by the word “disability” so much that we forget they have abilities after all.

In this video, what struck me personally was how James managed to diffuse the barriers that typically stood between interviewer and interviewee have an honest conversation beyond just transactional matters. A psychologist might have written, on his diagnosis, that this was an example of “underdeveloped social skills”, which clearly led to a far more positive outcome: the law firm has got itself someone with the correct convictions, whereas James did his job as “interviewer” very well as part of being in gainful employment.

The learning point is this: there are abilities in dis’abilities’, and at times, these unique abilities make them outshine neurotypicals at certain job tasks. We should think about integrating people and finding meaningful work that best suits our people, not try to shoehorn them into our definition of what defines a “typical” person.

As for TOUCH, that was why I was so touched when I saw their efforts on NDP day. They were so conscientious at making every single balloon and fulfilling every child’s request of taking pictures with the photoframes. They did that tirelessly, throughout the parade. It was symbolic and practical to give them a role during NDP to be “one people, one nation, one Singapore” in that regard, and we should strive to be inclusive. Everyone has abilities and can play a part in a larger ecosystem that needs people with different abilities and skillsets.

A Thought on Mortality

It is not every day that we think about mortality, even though it is perhaps one of few certainties in life.

Recently, I had the fortune of reading a book titled “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End“. Personally it left me with more questions than answers. For someone who is under 30 this year, it is quite difficult to think about topics revolving around death. What resonated with me very much, however, is the end-of-life stage, as one starts losing control over one’s abilities. Basic cognitive functions such as recall become difficult, as in Alzheimer’s. Basic motor skills also degenerate.

This also made me link to the fact that Singaporeans are generally living longer, but not aging healthily. It leaves food for thought on how one wants to ensure one is able to properly function for as long as possible, yet also leaves food for thought over a far more wicked problem: how do we view ourselves towards the ends of our lives? Surely we do not want to be a burden to the people around us when it is time to go. Surely we do not want to live our last moments in pain, neither do we want to live our lives with full knowledge of a noose that will eventually take us.

The thought of being stuck in a hospital bed, being anchored by tubes is not an exhilarating one. But such a thought provides me powerful motivation to keep healthy (to maintain performance), and to make sure my dreams become reality, someday.

Welcome to the Scratchpad!

Often we have thoughts that we may not be able to parse coherently at that point in time. Some of these are private, which I will clearly not make public musing about. However, there are a number of thoughts that we may all have come across at some point in our lives that someone else might have a clearer view of.

Hence, I decided to come up with a “scratchpad”. Unlike my other blog, which is usually reserved for more “technical” topics, the “scratchpad” takes on a significantly more casual tone to it.

I will muse about many different things, and there is no fixed topic to the scratchpad. If there was, would it be called a scratchpad, anyway?