Ivan began using his hands to hit his head about a decade ago. Now age 30, he is blind in the right eye and his sight in the left eye is deteriorating. He has a visible bald patch on his head—a worn-out part of the wall hints at how he has been passing time during the sixteen years at home.

Unable to use words to express his needs, self-harming is one of Ivan’s behaviours that his mother, Mdm Esah Lim, 64, has to manage. After graduating from a special education school, he was unable to find a care option until 2018, when a place became available at a daycare service offered by SPD, a local charitable organisation. This godsend gave his mother—who also single-handedly brought up his two sisters—some much-needed respite.

When Ivan was a boy, leaving the house was a mission in coordination as he would bolt in public and encounter his fair share of accidents. Mdm Lim would use a belt to tether him to her waist to ensure that she would not lose sight of him. Today, Ivan has to hold on to his caregivers to know where he is going. Said Mdm Lim: “My wish is that there will be a place that takes care of him when I’m gone.”


Keith cuts a familiar figure in his neighbourhood with his distinctive ear muffs, brisk walking gait and a quirk for picking up brochures from stores. No one bats an eyelid. They have grown accustomed to his mannerisms over the years and treat him with patience and understanding.

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