SPECIAL needs children can now get help at highly subsidised rates at a new therapy centre that opened in MacPherson yesterday.
The centre, launched by Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Moral Charities, has also adopted a rotation system to ensure every child gets a chance to make use of services such as speech and occupational therapy.
The centre was opened to meet the increasing demand for therapy for special needs children. It adds to the charity's existing children's therapy centre in Queenstown and caters to families living in the east.
The MacPherson centre, which will be able to serve around 120 cases a year, has already taken on 40 children.
Its facilities include a one-way mirror and audio system that allows parents and therapists to observe children in therapy without distracting them.
To ensure that no child with special needs is deprived of therapy services, the charity is keeping fees below private rates, and subsidises up to 90 per cent of the fees for families in need.
In the top subsidy range of 75 to 90 per cent, a parent pays between $8 and $20 a session, compared with the usual rate of $80.
Mr Chew Heng Ching, vice- chairman of THK Moral Charities, said "our mission is to help everyone who needs help".
Besides keeping rates affordable, the centre also rotates patients in blocks of 10 therapy sessions to ensure equal attention.
After the first 10 sessions, the child will be re-evaluated by his or her therapist and supervisor, and then assigned another block of 10 sessions if needed.
But each child is allowed only a maximum of two blocks of sessions before he or she is moved to the end of the queue.
Parents of children who have completed their prescribed therapy sessions will be given a set of goals and activities to be done with their children at home.
A parent whose child goes to the new centre is Mrs Michelle Koo, 34. She had quit her job as a credit analyst at a bank to take care of her son, Wen Rui.
She transferred the four-year- old boy to the MacPherson centre from the one in Queenstown as she felt the rotation system gave him a better chance of making use of the speech and occupational therapy services.
Therapy sessions offered by the charity have been "very useful", she said.
"My son can get quite frustrated when he is unable to communicate, but now he can tell me what he wants with sign language or through images," Mrs Koo added.
Marine Parade GRC MP Tin Pei Ling, the guest of honour at the centre's opening, said having such a service "in the heart of the heartland" brings hope to parents in the area.