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 to help persons with disabilities regain or improve certain functions.
Common forms of rehabilitation include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
It is advisable that a medical professional recommends or refers the individual to an intervention suitable for the individual’s specific condition or needs.
Common forms of therapy & intervention
Physiotherapy involves the prevention, assessment and treatment of disorders of human movement. It helps people relieve pain and improve muscle strength, joint range and mobility. The aim is to help each person achieve maximum movement 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 could 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 could also explore. They may like to 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 needs. The specialised support is usually offered from a child’s infancy stage to the time he 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 informal support groups.
For assistance on assessment/referral for early intervention/therapy services, please visit the following:
Early intervention services
Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC)
Children aged up to six years and with disabilities may be referred by doctors or paediatricians to the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC). This is probably the most common programme for children diagnosed with disabilities in Singapore. Activities at EIPIC centres are designed to maximise the child’s developmental growth potential and minimise the development of secondary disabilities.
Each EIPIC session lasts two to four hours, and sessions could be held two to five times a week, depending on the centre's assessment of the child's needs. Sessions may include therapy services such as speech, occupational and physio therapy.
EIPIC is government-funded and open to Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Both receive means-tested EIPIC fee subsidies, though the subsidy structure differs for both groups. 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.
EIPIC is not kindergarten or child care, so caregivers may also want to consider pre-school or childcare arrangements. More information can be found on our Education page.
Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (Enhanced PPIP)
Parents whose children have been referred to EIPIC but want more choices of early intervention programmes may want to consider the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (Enhanced PPIP) scheme.
Enhanced PPIP is a subsidy scheme that helps parents who have enrolled their children in selected Private Intervention Centres (PICs) defray the cost of intervention. It is a means-tested scheme; however, parents who do not qualify for the subsidy can still enroll their children in the PIC.
Some PICs also offer child care and pre-school services, so parents who want to enroll 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 and learning support
Government-appointed pre-school anchor operators such as My First Skool from NTUC First Campus and Sparkletots from PAP Community Foundation offer development support and learning support (DS & LS) for pre-schoolers with mild developmental needs. These short-term interventions - lasting six to 15 weeks - in areas such as speech and language, social skills, motor skills, behaviour and literacy, are provided by VWOs and intended to prepare these pre-schoolers for entry into mainstream primary school.
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 suitability of the programme, assessment process and fees.
DS & LS are catered to existing pre-schoolers who have been flagged by teachers and Learning Support Educators (LSEds) as having mild developmental needs. If your child is not in a pre-school that offers DS & LS, and you suspect your child of having developmental or special needs, you are advised to consult a doctor at a polyclinic or a paediatrician at KKH, NUH or SGH. The doctor will assess your child and advise you on follow-up actions if necessary.
Therapy for children and young adults
Therapy equips children with disabilities with skills in mobility, play and socialisation. If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is already provided, they can still get therapy sessions as well as psychological services from VWOs or private intervention centres. Programmes geared towards persons with certain disabilities e.g. autism, visual impairment are available.
Rehabilitation and therapy for adults
For adults who acquired a disability due to illness or accidents, rehabilitation or therapy services can help individuals overcome challenges they may face in mobility, independent living, working and socialising.
You can access useful resources on VWOs that provide rehabilitation and therapy services for adults below:
Community hospitals also provide rehabilitation services as part of the overall management and care of patients, which take place within the hospital or at home.
Other useful information
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, you will also likely come across various partners and it is useful to know how they help your child in this journey. Find out more in the links below.
A child with disabilities will also have different needs as he transits across different life stages.You can find out more on our Life Stages & Transitions page to know what to expect during those transitions.