Hello! Tell us about yourself and how you came to join MINDS.
Everyone calls me Jothi and I’m 51 this year! I have 2 children and my eldest son Kiran Raj is a client at SIA-MINDS Employment Development Centre (SMEDC) currently. Kiran has epilepsy and has Global Development Delay. I was a parent volunteer when I enrolled my son in MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School (LGS) in 2005. After Kiran graduated from LGS, he joined SMEDC and I volunteered there as well. Ms. Prema Thevarajah of SMEDC then encouraged me to join MINDS as a staff as she believed in what I could contribute as a member of staff. Honestly, I was not ready to work and I was very comfortable and happy being a volunteer at that time. After some consideration, I started as a relief staff in December 2017. In February 2019, l converted to a permanent staff as an Assistant Training Officer at Clementi Training & Development Centre (CTDC).
What are the challenges you faced as a working mother and a caregiver? How did you overcome the challenges? How do you think your job aids you as a mother and caregiver?
I would say that my job as a Training Officer at CTDC has made me a better caregiver. I have learnt more about the uniqueness, abilities, and challenges different persons with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs) have and face. It made me realise that every PWID is different and I get to understand my son’s uniqueness better.
I am now able to better understand why he behaves in a certain way or what he is trying to express. I used to suffer from caregiver stress as I did not know how to handle certain situations, but now I can better assess and handle situations. I have grown as a caregiver through my learning experience as a Training Officer.
Balancing between the roles of a working mother and a caregiver was a huge challenge I faced. Kiran used to have the ease of me waiting for him at our void deck to fetch him home, but not anymore. After I started working, Kiran learnt to be more independent as he had to go home on his own. I’ve taught him how to carry his own set of house-keys without losing it and he knows that he won’t be able to enter the house if he loses his keys. He can now take care of himself and be responsible for his own safety. Kiran now waits patiently for me to return home every day. He even prepares a glass of cold juice for me when I reach home after a tiring day at work!
How do you think you job aids you as a caregiver?
I would say that my job as a Training Officer at CTDC has made me a better caregiver. I have learnt more about the uniqueness, abilities, and challenges different PWIDs have and face. It made me realise that every PWID is different and I get to understand my son’s uniqueness better. I am now able to better understand why he behaves in a certain way or what he is trying to express. I used to suffer from caregiver stress as I did not know how to handle certain situations, but now I can better assess and handle situations. I have grown as a caregiver through my learning experience as a Training Officer.
What is one situation you faced as a caregiver, and how did your role as a Training Officer teach you to manage that situation?
As a caregiver I used to reprimand Kiran in the public whenever he misbehaved without realizing that people around us were watching. I used to think that he had to behave himself as a grown-up person and not a kid. I was often unable to accept his behavior and would scold him in the public. This action resulted him having meltdowns. I used to wonder why this would happen to us and how to handle such a situation again. I could not understand my own son. I wanted to know how I could manage him better and was glad to learn it through my job. As a Training Officer, I am able to manage different situations as I work with clients of various disabilities and every client is special in their own way. I have learnt that not every situation can be resolved with the same method.
How would you encourage other caregivers who are looking to take a path similar to yours?
Always remember that the struggle you face today develops the strength you need for tomorrow.
Encourage yourself and always believe in yourself. I must agree that it is not easy for caregivers (like me) to step out into working society. Being a Training Officer in MINDS, the smiles of my clients it never fails to make me happy and satisfied at the end of each day.
Like Jothi, we are committed to supporting and improving the quality of life of persons with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers here in MINDS. Join us in our mission as an employee of MINDS today! Explore the diverse range of roles and positions available here.
Featured in the May 2021 issue of MINDShare – our monthly e-newsletter. Scroll down for more original stories from our MINDS community.