- Intervention, which includes rehabilitation and therapy, can help persons with disabilities achieve a healthier and more independent lifestyle.
- It is better to start sooner than later; consult your healthcare professional to identify suitable programmes for your loved one.
- There are many programmes available from different providers, including ones that provide subsidies for families in need.
How intervention helps
Intervention refer to services like rehabilitation or therapy, which target developmental areas such as motor skills, cognitive skills, psychosocial skills, and speech and language.
Common forms of rehabilitation include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, which can help persons with disabilities regain or improve certain functions.
It is advisable for an individual to have a medical professional's recommendation or referral to a suitable for the individual’s specific condition or needs.
Common forms of therapy & intervention
Physiotherapy involves the prevention, assessment and treatment to improve one's mobility and functional skills. It helps people relieve pain and improve muscle strength, range of motion within the extremities and mobility. The aim is to help each person achieve functional mobility and independence, reducing the risk for further injuries and achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Occupational therapy aims to develop and maintain a person's ability to perform day-to-day tasks and roles essential to productive living, including self-care, daily living, leisure and work. Occupational therapists will work with a person to design a treatment programme with carefully designed activities. This can include modifications to a person’s home or office environment.
Speech therapy involves the assessment and treatment of speech, language or communication problems. Speech therapists may also work with people with eating and swallowing problems.
There are other complementary and less commonly-used forms of therapy, involving the use of music, art, animals etc. that parents can also explore. They may seek advice from their doctors or other qualified professionals like a special education teacher or therapist.
Early intervention can improve a child’s quality of life by enhancing his development and minimise the onset of additional developmental delays or disabilities.
Early intervention involves working on the child's developmental, health and support needs as early as possible upon detection of his/her needs. The specialized support is usually offered to a child at infancy stage to the time he/she enters school.
Research has shown that it is generally considered more beneficial to the child to intervene earlier rather than later. It is important to work with a medical practitioner, paediatrician and social worker to identify suitable early intervention programmes for the child.
At times, parents may receive a suspected diagnosis from a paediatrician, or conflicting diagnoses, and wonder whether it is better to ‘wait and see’ if the child will outgrow his/ her condition. Caregivers may find being part of a parent or caregiver support group helpful to deal with their situation. More information can be found in our list of caregiver support groups.
For assistance on assessment/referral for early intervention/therapy services, please visit the following:
Early intervention services
Actions to take
Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC)
Children with developmental needs aged up to six years may be referred by a doctor or paediatrician to the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC). This is probably one of the most common programme for children identified with developmental needs in Singapore. Activities at EIPIC centres are designed to maximise the child’s development and growth potential and minimise the development of secondary disabilities.
Intervention is provided 5 to 12 hours per week, depending on the child's need. Sessions may include therapy services such as speech, occupational and physio therapy.
EIPIC is government-funded and open to Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. They receive means-tested EIPIC fee subsidies from different subsidy structure. Children who are foreign nationals may be enrolled in private intervention centres instead.
Only KKH, NUH, SGH and private paediatricians can refer children to EIPIC.
For parents whose child’s doctor has initiated a referral for enrolment in EIPIC, this EIPIC information pack contains some useful materials on early intervention and EIPIC, to guide you through the initial phase of your child’s enrolment.
As a new caregiver, you may have many questions on early intervention. To help address some of these questions, a Step One programme for new caregivers is also available. For more information and to sign up, click here.
As EIPIC is not a kindergarten or child care, caregivers may also want to consider pre-school or childcare arrangements. More information can be found on our Education page.
Inclusive Support Programme (InSP) Pilot
Children with developmental needs aged three to six, who require medium levels of early intervention support, can also receive intervention in their preschools through the Inclusive Support Programme. The InSP is a pilot that is launched in 2021 and aims to integrate both early childhood education and early intervention in a preschool setting for these children. The InSP seeks to provide a more inclusive learning experience for both typically developing children and children with developmental needs
Similar to EIPIC, the InSP is government-funded and open to Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. They receive means-tested fee subsidies from different subsidy structure.
More information on the InSP referral process, fees, and list of pilot centres can be found here.
Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children - P (EIPIC-P)
Parents whose children have been referred to EIPIC but want more choices of early intervention programmes may want to consider the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children - P (EIPIC-P) scheme.
EIPIC-P is a means-tested scheme which provides subsidy that helps parents who have enrolled their children in selected EIPIC-P Centres defray the cost of the programme. Parents who do not qualify for the subsidy can still enrol their children in the EIPIC-P Centres.
Some EIPIC-P Centres also offer child care and pre-school services, so parents who want to enrol their child in such services may want to check with the centres.
In addition, there are a number of private pre-schools and specialised therapy centres that can support the child’s developmental needs.
Development Support (DS) and Learning Support (LS) programme
Government-appointed pre-school anchor operators such as My First Skool from NTUC First Campus and Sparkletots from PAP Community Foundation offer development support (DS) and learning support (LS) programme for preschoolers requiring low-level of early intervention (EI) support. These short-term interventions - lasting six to 15 weeks which focus on areas such as speech and language, social skills, motor skills, behavior and literacy, are provided by Social Service Agencies (SSAs) and intended to prepare these preschoolers for entry into mainstream primary school. Click here for more information.
Pre-schoolers suspected of having development or learning needs are referred by the pre-school for assessment. Referrals are processed by the pre-school. Participating pre-schools will be able to advise the parent on the suitability of the programme, assessment process and fees.
Development Support (DS) & Learning Support (LS) programme are catered to existing preschoolers who have been identified by teachers and Learning Support Educators (LSEds) as requiring low level of EI support . If your child is not in a pre-school that offers Development Support & Learning Support (LS) programme, and you suspect that your child has developmental or special needs, please consult a doctor at a polyclinic or a paediatrician at KKH, NUH or SGH. The doctor will assess your child and advise you on any follow-up actions.
Actions To Take
- Consult your paediatrician for their advice/recommendation for ad-hoc therapy.
- Ask about rehabilitation services for adults with acquired disabilities, which may be offered at community hospitals, or in the comfort of your home.
Therapy for children and young adults
Therapy helps children with special needs acquire skills in mobility, play and socialisation. If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is provided, they can still receive therapy and psychological services from SSAs or private intervention centres. Programmes geared towards persons with certain disabilities e.g. autism, visual impairment are available.
Rehabilitation and therapy for adults
Adults who acquired a disability due to illness or accidents can leverage rehabilitation or therapy services to help them overcome challenges they may face in mobility, independent living, working and socialising.
You can access useful resources on SSAs that provide rehabilitation and therapy services for adults below:
Community hospitals also provide rehabilitation services, which take place within the hospital or at home.
Other useful information
Children with special needs will have different needs as they transition across different life stages. You can find out more on our Life Stages and Transitions page to know what to expect during those transitions.
As a parent or caregiver, you are likely to be in the best position to set relevant and reasonable goals most suited for your child’s abilities and unique family circumstances. During the course of your child’s early intervention phase, you will also likely come across various partners and it is useful to know how they can help your child in this journey. Learn more about the services available in the links below.
Resources and Support
- For assessment and referral for EIPIC and therapy services
- Resources on Ad-hoc therapy services
- Additional Resources for Caregivers