This is the story of how a mother’s quest for the ideal learning environment for her child became the driving force behind one of Singapore’s top early intervention programmes and inclusive international schools. This is Yael and Benjamin’s story.
Yael Sasson has always been passionate about serving children and families. Trained as an Occupational Therapist, she set up Dynamics Therapy Group to provide an umbrella of services to help as many families as possible. Her professional journey then took a personal turn when her son, Benjamin, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at two years old. This led to the birth of Dynamics Early Intervention Program (EIP), and subsequently the inclusive Dynamics International School (DIS).
“I believed that if I, as a mother, was struggling to find the right educational setting for Benjamin, surely there must be other parents who are facing similar dilemmas,” Yael said.
The solution: an EIP that provides a nurturing educational space
Being an experienced therapist, Yael understands that every child’s needs are unique. As a mother, she also knows that children thrive when they feel nurtured and loved. This drove her and the team at Dynamics to create an EIP that provides children with a nurturing space where each of them has an individualised development plan.
For Benjamin, Dynamics EIP was “a wonderland”. The teachers would always try to find out a child’s interest and build upon it as part of the personalised attention the programme provides. “I had this big passion for Thomas the Train and pretty much anything that moved. Guess what? The amazing teachers at EIP knew about it, and designed an entire theme around transport for a term!” Benjamin gushed.
But it wasn’t just classrooms and textbooks – Dynamics EIP teachers even brought Benjamin and his class on field trips. “We took real journeys on public transports like trains and buses. It felt like my interests were coming alive and it made learning so much fun!” he shared. Being able to learn with peers also made learning enjoyable, as they could all share their experience with each other.
Another aspect that sets Dynamics EIP apart from the rest is that it adopts a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to learning. This means that Benjamin and his peers are able to receive support from other professionals, including the likes of Educational Therapists, Speech Therapists, and Occupational Therapists like Yael herself.
“Benjamin has so many fond memories from his time at Dynamics EIP. Most significantly, it’s the memories of the incredible team who collaborated with him. He’s still eagerly reconnecting with them till this day,” Yael shared.
Thanks to the programme’s effectiveness, Benjamin eventually ‘graduated’ from Dynamics EIP and successfully transitioned into a mainstream school.
The birth of DIS: an inclusive school that helps every child achieve success
After spending a few years in a mainstream primary school, Yael realised that the educational setting may not be able to cater to Benjamin’s unique needs. This led her to establish an international school with a mission to help every child flourish, no matter their abilities.
“It was Benjamin’s unique challenges and our pursuit for the ideal learning environment that truly propelled us into establishing a school and creating programmes to suit every child’s needs. “As a mother who’s also a therapist, I truly believe that every child holds immense potential. And our mission at Dynamics is to unlock it,” Yael said.
DIS is a Cambridge school that also follows the International Primary Curriculum for inquiry-based learning. Classes are intentionally kept small to allow for specialised attention and time for students to learn at their own pace. The curriculum can also be adapted to suit students with special needs. Yael explained, “Our commitment lies in inclusivity, ensuring that no child is turned away. We are here to craft a pathway to success for every child.”
Similar to Dynamics EIP, DIS provides students with access to specialised therapy services should there be a need. “Being a part of the larger Dynamics Therapy Group gives us this distinctive advantage as we have an extensive therapy centre supporting our school. Therapy services and programmes can be seamlessly integrated into our curriculum. From counselling to penmanship, self-regulation skills, and even language proficiency, we strive to be a one-stop solution for families,” Yael said.
Currently in Grade 6 at DIS, Benjamin said, “There’s so much to love at DIS!” With a radiant smile, he shares that his favourite subjects are Geography and learning about numbers. This comes as no surprise as he has a comprehensive knowledge of countries, familiar with their capitals and flag designs.
He also enjoys the inquiry-based learning approach in school. “Inquiry sessions make me feel like a detective. I enjoy uncovering answers and I learn so much in the process,” he said. Yael also shared that Benjamin has discovered the value of ChatGPT, using it as a resource to answer his curious inquiries and conduct research on subjects that pique his interests.
Outdoor learning is a commonly loved feature at DIS as well, another of Benjamin’s favourite aspects of school life. He shared, “The best thing about my week is definitely our Friday outdoor learning trips! We go on a bus and head off to gardens, playgrounds, and all sorts of cool places. It’s the perfect mix of fun and learning.”
Secondary school grades are coming to DIS!
Yael is excited to share that DIS will be expanding to offer secondary school grades as it continues to nurture children. “The expansion into secondary school grades is not just about growth, but our commitment to holistic, continued learning. In essence, it’s a promise: our promise to walk alongside our students as they transition into young adults. DIS is there to ensure their learning journey continues to be enriching, fulfilling, and empowering,” she said.
The essentials remain: DIS will still be an inclusive Cambridge school that offers students personalised attention as well as access to specialised programmes and therapies. Families can expect more experiential learning opportunities, which has brought so much joy to Benjamin and his classmates. More importantly, students can look forward to mentorship and guidance from the DIS team as they approach adolescence. Secondary school students will also go through leadership development and internal internships within the Dynamics Therapy Group, all of which prepare them for success in life beyond school.
“While there are numerous early intervention programmes in Singapore, the number dwindles significantly when a child reaches primary school years, more so for secondary school. Our expansion into secondary grades is a conscious effort to bridge this gap. We believe in providing a seamless transition from early intervention, to primary, and now secondary education. This uninterrupted learning trajectory ensures children are academically prepared and equipped with life skills, confidence, and resilience to face the world beyond school,” Yael said.
“Going into secondary school at DIS feels like the start of a new adventure!”
With so many new things to look forward to, Benjamin is excited to start Grade 7 at DIS soon. “I am excited to learn more about Math and Geography, go on excursions, and learn about leadership – even try it out myself. Leadership is especially of interest to me as both my parents own companies. I’m also hoping there’ll be more hands-on projects, maybe related to transport or even FIFA World Cup! I hope there’ll be soccer or foreign languages as I love picking up phrases from different countries,” he gushed.
“I’m a big boy now and it’s exciting!” Benjamin added, a confident phrase that any parent would be proud to hear. It’s inspiring how an effort that stemmed from a mother’s love to help her child unlock his full potential is now benefitting more families. We’re excited for DIS’ expansion, and thrilled for Benjamin’s new learning journey.
We wish you all the best, Yael and Benjamin!