Special Needs Therapist Caught On Video Manhandling Child, MSF Investigating
The therapist was said to have been given only "verbal warning" after the complaint.
Updated as of 1 July 2020 at 6pm:
The therapist that allegedly manhandled boy with special needs is now sacked, according to AutismSTEP, a special education school that employed her at the time of incident.
According to an AutismSTEP spokesperson to Stomp, the organisation suspended the therapist immediately after they caught wind of the news, and eventually dismissed her on 30 March 2019.
In a statement, the organisation said that they apologised to the family together with the therapist, personally after the incident took place. They also alleged having provided monetary compensation before the footages were uploaded online.
Ali’s family responded saying that they did not receive such monetary compensation from AutismSTEP however.
Instead, they asked for a refund of the course free from the school.
A mum wants to seek justice for her special needs son Ali—no action had been taken since the incident involving abuse by his home therapist that got away with only a ‘verbal warning’.
The last time the alleged abuse incident took place was in March last year, according to the boy’s mum, Safirah Oshin who took to a Facebook post to share her predicament.
Note: Distressing content ahead where videos involve scenes of rough handling of a child
She said despite making a “reappeal” and that the case was reopened in January 2020, their situation has not changed.
“REAPPEAL AND CASE REOPENED IN JANUARY ’20 UP TILL NOW STILL NO JUSTICE FOR MY SON!!! (sic)” she wrote.
According to Change.org that held a petition to seek justice for Ali, Mdm Safirah had reached out to various relevant government agencies following the incident. However, she said no follow-ups had been taken.
The case involving the Home Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapist was closed after “given verbal warning”.
Safirah explained that Ali has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Therapist Abused Special Needs Son
The post revealed CCTV footages of Ali being manhandled by the therapist where the therapist was seen to have held him by the neck at one point.
There were multiple counts of Ali trying to reach out and touch his therapist’s face, only to be embroiled in a tussle.
She was seen grabbing his arm and forcing it onto his face.
The two videos that were uploaded by the mum are only part of the entire 40 minute-long video that was recorded.
Ali’s cries can be heard throughout the video and was seen visibly distressed by the therapist’s actions.
“MAKE THIS VIRAL! BE HIS VOICE!! HELP ME FIGHT FOR HIS RIGHTS!” his mum wrote.
View this post on Instagram
I have decided to share this and post despite it being very painful to watch. Im not sure if IG will take it down but I want everyone to see the abuse and how this person should be banned and not get near our children. Listen with sound then you will hear how scared and distressed the child was. As a professional, if I can’t handle my anger. I should leave the session and inform parents. Not hurt the child. Now I want this person to be banned from practice. @halimahyacob @mothershipsg @desmond.lee Video is posted with mom’s permission. Please share and hashtag #JUSTICEFORALI
The mum’s videos were reshared on Instagram with her permission, to call out the therapist’s behaviour and “[wanting] this person to be banned from practice”.
“I want everyone to see the abuse and how this person should be banned and not get near our children,” wrote the ausometots account.
MSF Currently Investigating
As of 1 July 2020, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has responded to Mdm Safirah’s plea and are in contact with her regarding the case.
Netizens are also hoping to call on MSF to lead the effort in taking stronger action against the therapist, in a petition to help Ali seek justice.
Current Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee, assured the public that this matter will be investigated.
“I don’t have full details about this, but have asked that this matter be looked into thoroughly”.
Tan Chuan Jin, who previously held the post of Minister for Social and Family Development also said that MSF was looking into the case and would investigate it.
Netizens Trying to Uncover Identity of Therapist
In light of the therapist’s undesired actions that has inevitably caused trauma to Ali and family, angered netizens are seeking to uncover the therapist’s identity.
Facebook User, Sharifah Syed Mohd, wrote that the lady therapist is a Taiwanese, said to have previously worked for an organisation called Autism STEP.
She also shared a screenshot of a conversation she had with a member from the organisation, after she demanded to know who the therapist was.
Autism STEP responded and wrote that they suspended the said therapist of immediate effect and conducted an internal investigation the next day. The therapist was dismissed thereafter on 30 March 2019.
However, the therapist went on to work independently, according to mum Linda Randall, who had engaged her therapy services for her son.
Linda however, alleged the possibility “that the video may be doctored”. According to her, her son “likes [the therapist] a lot”.
Many parents also questioned where Ali’s parents had been during the therapy session.
While investigations are still ongoing, this incident reminds us of the need for proper screening and regulation when it comes to engaging professionals to care for our children.
While Ali and family have experienced much distress and trauma from this incident, we hope that authorities will be able to account for what has happened to them.
Lead image via Instagram/@ausometots and Facebook screengrab via Safirah Oshin.