According to the Enabling MasterPlan 2030 (EMP2030), the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Singapore continues to be on the rise. Further, it was reported that the number of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools has increased by 5% in the last 3 years. Factors contributing to this rise has largely been attributed to increased awareness and early identification. Hence, early intervention is a crucial cornerstone in addressing and supporting individuals facing challenges across various domains in their early developmental years. These could include social and communication difficulties, emotional regulation challenges, learning difficulties or other concerns.
In today’s technologically advanced times, easy access to information also poses as a double edged sword to parents’ search for information. From processing the emotions that accompany a suspected or confirmed diagnosis, to filtering through the myriad sources of information in an attempt to discern and select the right support, whilst coping with other responsibilities – it can be overwhelming. At Redwood Psychology, we hope to partner with you in this process.
Early Intervention at Redwood Psychology
Early intervention encompasses a set of systematic approaches designed to support and address the developmental needs of children who may be at risk of, or already experiencing, developmental delays or disabilities. The goal of early intervention is to identify and address concerns as early as possible to promote the child's overall development and well-being.
1. Initial Consultation
Family-centred practice is at the heart of the intervention process. It starts right from the first step as we seek to understand your concerns for your child and the needs of your family. Each family has its unique stressors, priorities, values, expectations and motivation. By guiding you toward appropriate resources, we hope to be a conveyor of hope for each family as we begin a partnership to support and empower you and your child.
Arrangements will be made with you for a visit to get to know you and your child better either in the clinic, home and/ or school settings during routines that occur regularly. This will enable us to serve your family better as we form a picture of your child’s strengths and learning needs, which will enable us to plan for the next step.
Learning goals and activities for your child will be tailored together with you, based on the information obtained from the assessment process. The outcome of the intervention plan must be functional, based on your family’s and child’s needs as well as priorities.
Implementation of the learning goals will adopt evidence-based approaches to support the development of identified learning needs in areas such as functional communication and social interaction skills, emotional regulation and adaptive learning skills. During this process, family members will also be supported to implement the strategies. This is fundamental in ensuring that your child’s learnt skills can be utilised in his/ her daily routines with different people.
Functional communication – creating opportunities for your child to learn to request for things during various routines that occur at home or in school
Social interaction – using your child’s favourite activities (eg. singing favourite songs) to teach your child how to connect with people through words, eye contact and body language
Emotional regulation – naming your child’s emotion to acknowledge how your child is feeling (“Sad…I know you’re sad”), then providing space and time to calm down with you
This is an important step that takes place after each session to review the effectiveness of the activities and approaches implemented. It is also critical to note that a single approach cannot be assumed to continue to be effective as your child grows and develops skills. Hence, this step determines when changes are necessary, and also provides information regarding your child’s learning progress and readiness for the next stage.
Early Intervention - The Beginning of a Journey
Every family’s experience is unique and diverse. Being sensitive to the lived experience of each family is critical in laying the foundations of a good relationship, which is key in supporting them through their journeys. Furthermore, the provision of clear and evidence-based information is important in enabling parents to make informed decisions. This is our belief in signposting families towards hope for the future.
Lastly, we leave you with a sharing from a parent:
“I am a mom from China. Dhil's birth brought us a lot of joy. He has a very sunny disposition and is very cute. We didn't notice anything different about him. Dhil was suspected to have autism when he was about 3 years old, and it has been more than 2 years since we received this news. When I first heard that my child could have autism, I was at a loss for words. I experienced a lot of anxiety and was in a lot of pain. The process was very painful and confusing.
It was during one of Dhil's appointments that we met his teacher, Weitang, for the first time. That meeting changed the rest of our lives. She brought light into our lives.
I still remember the first lesson Weitang taught Dhil in October 2022, when he was still immersed in his own world, completely unable to express himself, let alone recognize words or read, and very emotionally unstable. Over the past year, Dhil has made great progress. He has started to speak more, and has become more expressive. He is slowly starting to write and recognize words. He is also becoming more emotionally stable.
Weitang is not only Dhil's teacher, she is also my teacher and I have learnt much through her. For example, if my child has a temper tantrum today and I don't know how to solve it, she will analyze it with me one by one. Thanks to her gentleness, patience and listening ears, she has given me unlimited encouragement.
When I was still struggling to find a preschool for Dhil to attend, Weitang supported me in this process. Weitang also discussed transition plans with us, to plan for steps to follow up with in preparation for Dhil’s next phase of learning – such as enrolling him into a group-based government-funded early intervention programme.
I am thankful that my child has met a teacher who is very experienced, kind and caring. I also want to thank her for bringing light into our lives.”
Contact us to find out more about Redwood's Psychology's Early Intervention services.