Father to a fifteen year old son with intellectual disabilities, apraxia and dyspraxia. Anand Lal is a swim coach, adult training facilitator and gamification consultant who has overcome the challenges of bringing up a child with special needs to champion the cause of making Singapore a more inclusive society.
Despite minor development delays in the early months, Anand and his wife did not discover their son’s condition until he was 18 months old and had to be hospitalised for high fever. The revelation was devastating for Anand and his wife who realised that their lives would be drastically changed and whose hopes and dreams for their son were dashed.
Having a child with special needs meant a bigger financial burden on the family. With support from his mother-in-law, Anand and his wife worked as hard as they could in growing their careers while balancing the needs of their son who needed constant care and attended multiple therapy sessions.
Six years ago, Anand realised that his son who was in his pre-teens needed more of a father’s attention. Having reached the peak of his career, Anand quit his full-time job and took up a part time role as a financial consultant to spend more time with his son, taking him on adventure trips and indulging in swimming, his favourite activity. Being able to give his undivided attention and seeing his previously uncommunicative son develop the ability to express his likes and dislikes have been one of the greatest joys for Anand.
The biggest challenges in raising a child with special needs is helping the child assimilate into society and the constant worry of what will happen to the child when the parents are no longer around, says Anand. As such, Anand has been helping to build awareness of the needs of these children as well as a more inclusive society by volunteering with Special DADs for Life – a father group under Centre for Fathering and DADs for Life which seeks to support fathers of children with special needs. He is also a CaringSG CAREBuddy leader. Anand and his wife have another 2 year old boy.