Special needs children

Published Date: 11 May 2015 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) how does the Ministry work with the Health Promotion Board and the Ministry of Social and Family Development to promote greater awareness among parents and early childhood teachers on how to assess early on whether a child has special needs versus just being disobedient; (b) how does the Ministry work with the Ministry of Health to (i) cater to the psychological and social-emotional aspects of special needs children and (ii) help parents cope with children with mental health issues; and (c) whether the Ministry has support groups for parents of children with special needs as part of the education infrastructure.

Response

Various agencies are involved in supporting children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and their parents or care-givers.  For children below the age of seven, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) works with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and other partners to equip pre-school educators with basic skills to identify children with special needs and learning difficulties, and to raise their awareness of early intervention strategies to assist such children. 

Pre-school children identified as having special needs can be enrolled in support programmes overseen by MSF such as the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) or the Development Support Programme which are delivered by trained therapists and Learning Support Educators.

To support special needs students with emotional, social and/or behavioural issues, there are trained personnel in mainstream schools such as Allied Educators for Learning and Behavioural Support, Teachers trained in Special Needs and School Counsellors, to provide case consultation and intervention.  In addition, MOE collaborates with the Institute of Mental Health to make available REACH (Response, Early intervention and Assessment in Community mental Health) services at mainstream and Special Education schools. Students may be referred to the Child Guidance Clinic after assessment by the REACH team for further psychiatric evaluation and intervention such as psychotherapy, group or family work and advice for parents and other caregivers.

To create public awareness and support parents with special needs children, mainstream schools and SPED schools have parent support groups (PSGs). Resources and information on special needs are also provided at MOE’s Parents-in-Education website.

MOE also works with relevant departments in restructured hospitals, such as the Department of Child Development in KKH, and Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to support students with SEN and their families. Such collaborations include enhancing transition support for these students at point of entry into Primary One, making available consultation services for school personnel by VWOs, and various awareness talks and presentations to parents, teachers and allied educators on SEN.  These measures aim to enhance support for the psychological and emotional well-being of the students.

For parents whose child is in a mainstream primary school and who requires a higher level of support, MOE has engaged the services of VWOs to provide Post-Diagnosis Educational Guidance.  The service aims to provide parents with: 

  1. emotional support and guidance in the journey towards acceptance of their child’s SEN diagnosis
  2. accurate and reliable information on the educational pathways for their child and the SPED school options available; and
  3. information and guidance on the admissions processes of SPED schools.
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