Integrative Approach Of Development Support Programme

Therapy in progress during DSP

Therapy in progress during DSP

In this article, educational psychologist Lim Li Hong gives further insight into the Development Support Programme, an interim one where intervention is provided by therapists in the child’s most natural setting.

The Development Support Programme (DSP) supports pre-schoolers with mild developmental needs in their classrooms for a period of 10 to 15 weeks. This makes it both a time and cost effective programme which also eliminates logistical woes for parents as therapy sessions are integrated into the pre-school setting.

This integrative programme focuses on the holistic development of the children and aims to boost their learning outcome. It comprises two routes – therapy and learning support.

The therapy route consists of ten sessions of one-to-one or small group therapy and five sessions of in-class support. The in-class support session allows the learning support educator to go into the classroom to help the child generalise the skills learnt in therapy and apply them in class, and at the same time, provide prompts to facilitate the child’s learning in the classroom.

On the other hand, the learning support route comprises six or ten sessions

that are similar to the therapy route except without the in-class support sessions.

Both routes aim to equip the child with skills which he could apply in his natural setting, and focus on the practicality, functionality and maintenance of the skills learnt during intervention.

Based on the parents’ and teachers’ concerns, key areas such as speech and language, gross and fine motor, reading and literacy as well as socio-emotional skills are prioritised and addressed in both the home and school settings.

The DSP works primarily on a transdisciplinary approach. In order to address the diverse needs of each child, a team comprising speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, learning support facilitators, educational psychologists and learning support educators, work together with the primary aim of enhancing the outcome of the intervention.

This transdisciplinary method makes it possible to derive at solutions with a new level of understanding of complex developmental needs in pre-school children. Guided by holism rather than reductionism, the method allows members from multiple disciplines to collaborate by contributing their knowledge and expertise from the start. The collective effort helps in determining best ideas or strategies to create an individual educational plan for the child that covers all his necessary developmental needs.

The case filter meeting is an example. In this platform, professionals from different disciplines between organisations gather to share their knowledge and expertise in conceptualising and deciding on the suitability of different interventions for each child who screened. Concepts or methods originally developed by one discipline may be used by other disciplines, such as embedding literacy goals (eg. recognition of alphabets or letter sounds) in speech and language therapy.

As another example, literacy, originally an area covered by the learning support facilitator, could also be incorporated into speech and language therapy or occupational therapy, depending on the needs of the child. In this way, therapists from different disciplines gather to share knowledge and to determine goals for the individual child, and also share strategies and resources to facilitate the execution and achievement of the goals.

Despite the importance of the transdisciplinary approach, collaboration between parents and teachers play a vital part in generalising and maintaining the skills learnt in therapy. With these as a foundation, the DSP works in helping each child to achieve his fullest potential.