One by one, the plastic egg cartons are taken out, adhered with stickers, then neatly stacked up again. Humming their favourite Chinese children's songs, sisters Gek Teng, 20, and Gek Huee, 18, can label up to 2,000 egg cartons in an afternoon.

Like many young adults with special needs, they faced the uncertainty of not knowing where to go after leaving school. Employment was not an option given their high level of needs. There was also a long waiting list for spaces at day activity centres. Labelling egg cartons earns them $4 for every 1,000 pieces and seems like an ingenious solution to pass time and earn a small allowance while picking up new skills.

Their energetic mother, Mdm Chua Soh Ling, 48, keeps an eye out for opportunities like beadwork for the girls to spend their time meaningfully. She said: “I will do more to teach them when I’m still around, so those who take over from me will find it less straining.


Trawling through Benjamin’s notebooks, one could mistake them for cafe menus. Drinks, main courses and sides are diligently documented in neat rows alongside requests of reservations by customers so he can respond to any queries.

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