What brought you to Singapore? My sister and I were trailing third culture kids. I was born in Germany and spent some of my childhood there but grew up in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore most of my life. I ultimately fell in love with the little red dot and adopted it as my second home after completing my studies in America. What are your favourite aspects of life here? I love the multi-racial community, culture, food, beautiful weather and how safe it is to raise kids here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! A lot of your work in Singapore is around advocating for children with special needs. Tell us about it. I’ve always adored working with children and believe each of them can shine if people are willing to support their learning gaps and cultivate their personal strengths. This was what pushed me to provide a learning environment that is a safe space for kids to grow in their own unique ways. Although there has been progress in special needs awareness since I first started out in the field in 2005, I still feel that a lot of children are misunderstood and that the stigmas that come along with a diagnosis can significantly

What prompted the founding of IIS? I initially opened The Von Auer Psychology Centre to work with kids under the age of six. After conducting many therapy sessions, I noticed that many of the kids were experiencing similar challenges in mainstream schools. I also heard many stories of how the schools couldn’t accommodate their learning needs and the kids had been told to leave. Naturally, this is extremely distressing for both parent and child to experience at such a delicate age. With the encouragement of many parents I was working with, I tailored an educational programme for students with unique support needs using the trademarked Von Auer Collaborative Teaching Approach. More importantly, it provided them with a sense of belonging and confidence. It has evolved into what IIS is today. If you weren’t running IIS, what do you think you would be doing? My passion has always been geared towards working with children and I can’t imagine doing anything that doesn’t involve children. If I were unable to run IIS, I would return to counselling and conducting diagnostic assessments for children and teens. I love being part of the child’s and general family unit’s success. What do you do on weekends? They’re usually reserved for quality mummy-daughter time with my two girls. We enjoy being active in the mornings by going to the beach, a park or playground or by having fun through messy play – think lots of paint, flour, sand and water. I also want to instil a balanced, healthy lifestyle in my kids, which is why we do some sort of sport each weekend. Currently, we’re into kickboxing and basketball. International Integrated School is at 41 Sunset Way, #01-01. 6466 4475 |

BY PATRICEA CHOW Dr Vanessa minutes with Von Auer DR VANESSA VON AUER is a clinical psychologist, the founder andCEOof Integrated International School, and a mum! All her roles involve children,andshehasaparticular passion for supporting kids with special needs.

l imi t oppo r t un i t i e s f o r them. In contrast, when these students’ diagnoses, abilities and preferences are considered as part of their learning journeys, they tend to flourish.

I really hope that the services offered at IIS – which provides one teaching approach for mainstream students and another for mainstream students with individualised needs – will help parents learn to accept their kids for who they are and to normalise their differences.



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