Different Heroes: 'I don't want to be quiet, dad'

PHOTO: The Heart Enterprise

11-year-old Joseph Johnston moved to Singapore seven years ago, where teachers told his parents that the boy was not a good fit in school.

This raised the red flag, said his father Nick Johnston. Joseph was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay and referred to the Autism Recovery Network by a friend.

It was a "weight off their shoulders" when a therapist told them that Joseph "will get better".

Nick said when Joseph was first analysed at five or six he could only "check 60 boxes" out of the 300 tasks that children his age were able to perform. 

But now, not only can he fill most of the boxes, he says "it's a struggle to keep him quiet sometimes", to which Joseph immediately quips: "I don't want to be quiet, dad."

Joseph is a born entertainer and is happily taking singing and dance classes to hone his craft. His dream is to become a bigger star than Michael Jackson one day.

Said Nick: "Autistic kids are talented. They're not all mathematicians.. we just need to give them a chance, give them a leg up, and we can watch them grow."

Children with special needs have dreams and aspirations just like all of us. With help from society, differently-abled citizens can maximise their potential.