'Inclusive' pre-schools must have enough special-needs teachers

It was very reassuring to read that a training programme to help parents communicate with their very young autistic children managed to reduce symptoms of the disorder ("Early interaction can help autistic children, study shows"; Thursday).

The findings of this overseas study set me thinking about mainstream childcare centres and kindergartens that take in children with special needs.

Are there enough teachers trained in special-needs education to cater to the intellectual and socio-emotional needs of these children in these "inclusive" pre-schools?

I can empathise with parents wanting their child to be accepted in the mainstream setting.

However, I hope parents will also consider the importance of their child receiving planned, specialised early intervention to improve their child's outcomes.

I also hope that the Early Childhood Development Agency will set a minimum number of certified special-needs educators required at mainstream pre-schools which have children with special needs, based on the number of such children these schools have.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline ''Inclusive' pre-schools must have enough special-needs teachers'. Print Edition | Subscribe