Include special needs children from toddler-stage to ready them for classroom

I concur with Dr Rebecca Chan ("True inclusiveness for special needs kids goes beyond the classroom"; Dec 5) on the need to examine deeper the kind of policies Singapore should have to include special needs children with moderate to severe conditions in the Compulsory Education Act.

Besides a differentiated curriculum, there must be more governmental dialogue between the ministries to help optimise resources for special needs children.

Early this year, it was reported that between 2010 and 2014, there was a 76 per cent jump in cases of children under six with development delays, speech and language delays, learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorders.

This is a very sobering statistic that requires a rethink of the current system of help for special needs children from the point of diagnosis.

With hospitals identifying these children earlier, there must be more dialogue on how the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is working with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to assist them.

Currently, SG Enable tries to co-ordinate efforts, but there are glaring gaps, like the lack of programmes for children between 18 months and 30 months of age. Research has shown that the effects of early intervention can be maximised at this age.

I hope the MSF can be more transparent about how help is given to toddlers and how programmes like the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers can be updated to keep up with the practices by hospitals and polyclinics in identifying children with autism.

As an educator, I see children's life experiences as a series of scaffolds to help them have success in the classroom.

We must seek to enable them, especially those with special needs, as early as possible, and not wait until they enter the primary school classroom.

Madeline Lim-Chen (Mrs)