a mother walked into the paediatric specialist clinic with her preschool-aged son this morning. he had problems stringing words into a sentence, something a child should be able to do around age 2. as the doctor assessed the boy, it was clear that he had a speech delay. he responded to her questions with monosyllabic answers and couldn’t identify colours.
speech problems are either due to a hearing disorder, explained the doctor, or lack of verbal stimulation. the little boy had no trouble with his hearing, which means there must be very little communication in his family.
upon further questioning, the boy’s mother told us that her husband died when their son was just a year old. although she was working, their family’s income was below the poverty line and for some reason, social welfare stopped payment a couple of months ago.
the doctor reached over for the social welfare forms. “as doctors,” she said, “we have to use every opportunity possible to help people in every way.”
she stamped her chop onto 4 forms – 2 each for the mother and the boy – and then added a “datin” in front of her name.
i’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know“. i’m also sure you know what the doctor was trying to do.
on one hand, i was touched by her empathy towards her patient and his family. on the other, i found myself wondering why things have to be like that…that we have to use our titles and positions in order to get things done. snip through some red tape.
of course, the doctor did it with her patient in mind. perhaps his mother will be able to receive her welfare aid sooner. maybe sending the boy for regular speech therapy will be less of a burden on the family.
but i’m still dismayed at the way things are. that’s just me being idealistic again. sigh.