Debate on ministries' budgets

Autism, intellectual disability: Aid for caregivers

Caregivers of people with autism or intellectual disability will get more support, including help to defray the cost of hiring a foreign domestic worker.

From April 1, these caregivers will be able to apply for a discounted maid levy of $60, and depending on the support needed, possibly also a $120 monthly grant.

Currently, such help is only for caregivers of people who cannot perform activities of daily living such as going to the toilet.

"We estimate that about 1,000 persons with disabilities and their caregivers could benefit," said Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim in Parliament yesterday .

People with autism or intellectual disability will undergo an alternative evaluation to apply for the discounted levy and grant. Dr Faishal said this assessment will, in particular, help people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder who need help performing activities of daily living.

MSF has worked with the Ministry of Health to include MSF's Client Assessment Form as an alternative tool to evaluate the support a person needs to perform daily living activities, said Dr Faishal.

He said people with disabilities and their caregivers can approach special education schools, or disability care services such as the day activity centres, to have the assessment done onsite.

During the debate on MSF's budget, Dr Faishal also announced that a Caregivers' Space will be set up at the Enabling Village by this year.

This will serve as a meeting place for peer support groups, a training space for caregivers of people with disabilities, and a venue for caregiver engagement sessions.

"We want caregivers to come, learn from the experiences of fellow caregivers, and get advice and moral support as they walk their caregiving journey," he said.

The Special Needs Trust Company, a non-profit firm that offers subsidised trust services, will step up efforts to raise awareness about its care planning and financial education services, he noted. It has already helped about 500 families.

Over the next five years, the firm will try to reach out to more than 1,700 caregivers of persons with disabilities, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'Autism, intellectual disability: Aid for caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe