SINGAPORE – A 17-year-old teenager with autism, who was separated from his family’s helper on his way to school, was eventually reunited with his family thanks to a Safe Entry officer at Vivo City.
Recounted by his mother, Clara, on the Facebook group Friends of ASD Families, on 6 October, the teenager, David, and his helper were separated at Punggol MRT station before reuniting at Vivo City.
David and his helper were on their way to Eden School, a special education school for students on the autism spectrum when the latter managed to board a train without the youth. Although the helper had gestured for David to wait for her on the platform, he had gone missing by the time she returned to the station.
Confident that David could make his way to the school, the helper hurried on their usual route, hoping to find David at the station where the duo would usually change trains. However, Clara was informed of David’s disappearance when the helper could not find the teen and approached the MRT staff for help.
Relief came for Clara when she was making a police report from home as Eden School received a phone call with details of David’s whereabouts. The mother recalled a member of the public calling the school, letting them know that David was found near Toast Box at Vivo City.
It turned out that Wei Xiang, a Safe Entry officer, contacted the school after noticing David sitting near another officer and pulling at the latter to look at his iPad.
“Wei Xiang had a sense that David might need help and tried to look at David’s lanyard but could not find any contact numbers. However, he had the presence of mind to identify David as a student of Eden School through his school uniform and quickly search for the school’s telephone number to make the call.”
Going the extra mile, Wei Xiang accompanied David to wait for Clara and the police to arrive, even as the teen got restless and wanted to go off. While waiting, the good samaritan also helped connect David’s iPad to the mall’s wifi to keep him occupied.
He also realised from the teen’s gestures that he was hungry. Despite the barrier in communication, Wei Xiang managed to buy David a meal after searching online for food photos and letting David point what he wanted.
“I barely had a chance to thank Wei Xiang properly as the police were taking down my statement to close the case. I only managed to call him afterwards to tell him how grateful I was and to let him know what a difference he had made!” Clara shared.
In the post, Clara added that the Safe Entry officer was “truly remarkable in his persistence” for helping David despite the latter not being able to communicate well.
In sharing her recount, Clara hopes that people could “empathise and reach out if they see someone behaving differently”, in case it is another person who needed help.