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.

The 24-year-old may only be a server in the restaurant where he works but he is fully dedicated to his job and proud of his ability to earn an income. This independence is the result of years of hard work put in by Benjamin and his mother, Mdm Irene Lim, 56. She trains him to complete household chores, be disciplined, and to follow schedules and instructions.

Work aside, Benjamin is cautious about making new friends beyond his circle of colleagues and those supportive of autistic individuals, due to experiences of being bullied at the mainstream schools he attended. He thinks the process of finding a girlfriend who shares his love for anime and classic Thomas trains sets will be “like finding a needle in the haystack.”

Benjamin is anxious about how his life would be like when his parents pass on. He once told his mother, "When both you and dad are gone, I think I'll be very lonely.”


When the world around him gets overwhelming, Ashraf, 21, will dig into his bag for one of his many counters and practise dhikr, Islamic devotional acts in which phrases or prayers are repeated. Ashraf has autism and Tuberous Sclerosis. He was bullied while studying at a mainstream primary school and developed deep-rooted anxiety as a result.

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