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Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is mainly established by a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ of 70 or below). Persons with intellectual disability generally have difficulty with grasping concepts and solving problems. Intellectual disability is also a feature of medical conditions such as Down Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome and Williams Syndrome.

Key points

  • Persons with intellectual disabilities can benefit from therapy and intervention.
  • Those who require child or adult care services may consider inclusive preschools, special student care centres, or centre-based, residential, and home care services.
  • Children with intellectual disabilities can enrol in either SPED schools or mainstream schools, depending on their individual needs.
  • Adults with intellectual disabilities can participate in programmes to prepare them for working life.
  • There are training and skills-upgrading programmes to help those with disabilities to secure jobs.

Here you will find information on the social support available for persons with intellectual disabilities, resources and stories of people going through the same journey.


Therapy and Intervention

Actions to take

  • Look into early intervention programmes offered by schools or private centres to support your child’s development.

Rehabilitation and therapy can help persons with intellectual disabilities regain or even improve certain functions that were lost due to co-morbid conditions or medical conditions. For instance, speech therapy could help persons with intellectual disabilities better express themselves and interact with others.

For children, early intervention helps minimise the onset of additional developmental delays or disabilities.

Services and programmes

Parents who suspect their child has an intellectual disability should consult a medical professional to assess the child’s development and to obtain referrals for suitable early intervention programmes if necessary.

Early Intervention Programme For Infants and Children (EIPIC) is likely the most known programme for children with special needs. Activities at EIPIC centres aim to maximise the child’s developmental growth potential while minimising the development of secondary disabilities.

Explore the list of EIPIC centres catering to children with intellectual disabilities.

If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is already provided, he can still attend therapy sessions offered by other SSAs or private intervention centres. Adults with acquired intellectual disabilities, such as those resulting from traumatic brain injury, can also consider therapy services to overcome challenges they face in independent living, working and socialising. Find out more about therapy and intervention services.

Other useful information:


Child and adult care

Actions To Take

  • Consider day care, residential, or home-based care options which can cater to your various caregiving needs.
  • Consider the need to be your child’s court-appointed deputy to make decisions on their behalf if they lack mental capacity when they reach the legal age of 21.

Day care, residential programmes and other care services are available to support persons with intellectual disabilities. The type of service needed depends on a person’s needs and the level of support that his/her caregiver can provide.

Centre-based care

Caregivers looking for childcare and before/after-school care may consider inclusive pre-schools which offer lessons catered to children of varied abilities, or before/after-school care at Special Student Care Centres (SSCCs) for students aged seven to 18. Find out more about other  care services for children and youth below 18 years.

Care options for youths and adults include Sheltered Workshops where people engage in simple vocational tasks under close supervision in a dedicated setting and Day Activity Centres (DACs). Where possible, getting a job is something to consider as it is a step towards financial security and participation in society.

Activity-based Programmes

Organisations like MINDS and Rainbow Centre have activity-based programmes that aim to enhance the social integration of persons with disabilities. Please contact the programme to find out more and check for eligibility.

Me Too! Club by MINDS is catered for adults with intellectual disability who are unable to participate in community-based services and/or prefer a less intensive programme. Activities include enrichment activities, parties and excursions, befriending home visits, and customised respite care.

Young Adult Activities (YAA!) by Rainbow Centre is a community club that aims to enhance the quality of life for persons with moderate to severe disabilities by reducing social isolation. Activities include weekly classes, excursions and volunteering opportunities.

*In light of enhance safe distancing measures for COVID-19, most activities are now being conducted in small groups for its members. There are limited activities now conducted via online platforms. 
Me Too! Club is now conducting limited activities on online platforms. Visit  to find out more.

Home-based care

Home-based care options include foreign domestic help and home-based care services provided by SSAs. Find out more on other Child and Adult care services.

Residential care

Adults who are unable to receive adequate care support at home can opt for residential homes and hostels which offer alternative accommodation. Those with limited care support, but who are fully independent and have a job, may consider community group homes. These are designated HDB rental flats sited in the community. Places in residential care facilities, however, are limited and should be considered only by people who have exhausted all other avenues of community-based services. Find out more on such care services.

Future care planning

Caregivers of persons who lack mental capacity can apply to be their deputy. This gives the deputy the authority to make important decisions where necessary, such as those involving personal welfare and health, property of ownership, and finances. As children with intellectual disabilities approach the age of 21, parents may want to consider applying to be their court-appointed deputies – the Assisted Deputyship scheme will help them do this, or they can approach the Office of the Public Guardian directly. Explore more Child & Adult care services to aid you in your future care planning.

Other useful information:



Actions to take

  • Consider enrolling your pre-schooler into an inclusive or integrated preschool.
  • Find out more information and consider the different factors before choosing to enrol your child into either SPED school or mainstream school.

Children and youths with special needs have various education pathways they can choose from, depending on their individual needs and abilities.


Apart from early intervention programmes, pre-schoolers may enrol in inclusive or integrated pre-schools.

Special education and mainstream schools

Education is compulsory up to age 15 in Singapore, so children from age seven will need to enrol in either Special Education (SPED) schools or mainstream primary schools.

About half the SPED schools in Singapore serve students with mild to severe intellectual disabilities.

Mainstream schools are better suited for children who have the cognitive ability to handle the mainstream curriculum, and whose needs can be met with minimal adaptation (e.g. the use of assistive devices).

Not every child is diagnosed with intellectual disability by school-going age. Some are diagnosed as having borderline intellectual disability, leaving parents with the difficult decision of whether to put their child in SPED or mainstream education.

Choosing education systems can be tricky, and parents can speak to medical professionals, social workers or teachers to seek their recommendations. Parents who have gone through the same journey may also be able to share their personal experiences. Ultimately, each child is different, and decisions should be made in his/her best interests.

The links below provide more useful information:

Service providers:

Other useful information:



Actions to take

  • Consider vocational educational programmes to prepare for work life.
  • If you have an acquired intellectual disability, enrol in SG Enable’s Hospital-to-Work programme.
  • Explore skills upgrading and job placement opportunities.
  • Find out more information here: Training and employment

Work Training

There are various initiatives for students with special needs leaving the school system to help prepare them for working life. Metta School and APSN Delta Senior School offer vocational education programmes to eligible students with mild intellectual disability from the age of 16 years; these eventually lead to national (WSQ and NITEC) certification.

Persons with acquired intellectual disability - such as those due to accidents or illness - may find it difficult to return to their old jobs or prepare for a new career. They may consider SG Enable's Hospital-to-Work programme, which offers services including rehabilitation, skills training and employment assistance.

Finding Employment

Job seekers can look into services and schemes designed to help them secure and hold down a job. Organisations, such as the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), provide a suite of services to support persons with intellectual disabilities who want to work. For more information, please visit the links below:

Featured articles:

Resources and support

Other forms of disability support

An overview of disability support available can be found on our Introduction page.

Money Matters

Information on financial assistance schemes, subsidies and grants.



Information on accessibility features of public transport, concession cards.


Assistive Technology

Hearing aids, Braille devices, magnifiers and other assistive technology to help you live and work more independently.


Leisure & Recreation

Arts and sports venues, and other places of interest with barrier-free accessibility.


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