Early intervention can make a difference to a child’s development, resulting in better outcomes for children with special needs, including better social and daily living skills. In a letter published in Today’s Voices on 17 March, SPD executive director Mr Abhimanyau Pal, took the opportunity to share some of the early intervention programmes available.
We understand the anxiety of parents and carers who have children with special needs, and the call for greater support.
We are also heartened by the interest in early intervention in the letter “Provide early intervention for all children with special needs” (March 7), and thank the writers for this opportunity to highlight some of the early intervention support available.
The Government has invested considerable resources in providing early intervention services for children with special needs since the mid-1980s.
There has been greater synergy within the sector over the past decade as voluntary welfare organisations, co-ordinating bodies, ministries and other stakeholders work in a more concerted effort to build up resources.
SPD has served more than 2,800 children and their families through various early intervention support programmes since 2012, such as the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC).
Offered to children aged six years and below who are diagnosed with special needs that affect their development, EIPIC is a government aided programme that aims to achieve better outcomes in all domains of the child’s development.
Singapore has 17 EIPIC centres, including two that SPD operates, that provide educational and therapy services for these children. We will open two more centres this year.
For mainstream preschoolers with mild developmental needs, the Development Support Programme helps prepare them for primary school. Therapists and learning support educators carry out intervention at the child’s kindergarten or childcare centre.
This initiative of the Social and Family Development Ministry is provided by SPD and two other service providers, and we work with mainstream preschools across the island.
Through our Continuing Therapy Programme, SPD also supports mainstream schoolchildren aged 18 years and below who require speech and occupational therapy to improve their functional and academic performances. This complements the therapy a child receives in a special school.
Recognising that teachers must adopt appropriate classroom management strategies to support a child with special needs in a mainstream setting, we equip preschool teachers and allied educators with skills to create an inclusive environment and support these children better.
Carers, educators, professionals and other stakeholders must work closely to ensure streamlined, efficient support for the children. We hope they will tap these services provided in the community, so that special needs children can be integrated into our community, and not be apart from it.