In Singapore, it is estimated that one in 150 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is higher than the incidence rate of 160 identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With the increase in the number of children diagnosed with developmental issues, the Government recently announced two new schemes and additional financial support for families with children with developmental needs.
Following a two-year pilot involving approximately 700 children from three early intervention centres including the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre at SPD@Jurong, two enhanced early intervention (EI) programmes will be rolled out from July 2019 to help children with developmental needs maximise their potential.
Here’s an overview of the two new programmes:
- Children under two years old enrolled in the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) will receive more targeted intervention
- Parents/caregivers’ participation in the programme is strongly encouraged. Parents/caregivers will receive training to carry out intervention strategies in the child’s daily routines at home
- Each child will receive one to two early intervention sessions of two to four hours per week
Development Support (DS)-Plus
- Serves children with mild-moderate developmental needs, who have made sufficient progress at EIPIC centres to receive intervention in their pre-school setting
- Each child will receive an average of two sessions of two to four hours per week
- The programme lasts about three to six months
Besides the centre-based EIPIC, SPD currently also offers early intervention support at the children’s pre-schools when they are identified by their teachers to be suitable for the Development Support/Learning Support services. With the introduction of the new services, the children will be able to find a programme that best fits their needs.
“We welcome the implementation of the EI continuum as it allows children with developmental needs to receive different levels of intervention support depending on their needs, and they could also easily transit from one EI programme to the next as they progress,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Chief Executive Officer, SPD.
Under the EIPIC Under-2s programme, caregivers were required to participate actively and to carry out intervention strategies at home. Caregivers shared that the programme has given them substantial support so they no longer feel as helpless because they now know who to turn to when they need help and support. They have seen significant improvements in their children and are more aware of their needs and how to help them.
Similarly for DS-Plus, caregivers were supportive of the enhanced programme. They were happy to have their child supported in the pre-school, and some feel this is important to help their child in their transition to mainstream schools.
Pre-school educators have found the intervention strategies useful and applicable to the whole class, not just for the child under DS-Plus. More importantly, they appreciate the early intervention professionals’ engagement with the child, including managing his or her emotions and social interactions with rest of the children in class.
“The continuum of services also calls for greater partnership between EI service partners, pre-schools educators and caregivers so that the child can receive the right support he/she needs,” added Mr Pal.
For more information of the two programmes, please refer to:
- Enhanced Early Intervention: Better Support For Children With Developmental Needs, MSF, 28 January 2019