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Autism

Autism is a range of developmental conditions characterised by difficulties in communication and social interaction, sensitivity to sensory stimulation and repetitive behaviour.

Key Points

  • Persons with autism experience difficulties with communication and social interaction, sensory stimulation, and display repetitive behaviour.
  • Persons with autism often benefit from therapy and early intervention.
  • Those who require child or adult care services may consider inclusive preschools, special student care centres, or centre-based, residential, and home care services.
  • Children with autism can enrol in either SPED schools or mainstream schools, depending on their individual needs.
  • Adults with autism can participate in programmes to prepare themselves for working life.


Here you will find information on social support available for persons with autism, resources and stories of people on the same journey.

 

Therapy and intervention

Actions To Take

  • Look into early intervention programmes or ad-hoc therapy for children with autism.
  • Consult a medical professional on scientifically proven therapy methods before choosing one for your child.


Some behaviours – such as poor eye contact and repetitive behaviour – may be red flags for autism and warrant further assessment. While autism is a lifelong condition, therapy and intervention can help children with autism improve their social and communication skills.


Services and programmes 

Early Intervention Programme For Infants and Children (EIPIC)  is likely the most known programme for children with special needs. Activities at EIPIC centres aim to maximise the child’s developmental growth potential while minimising the development of secondary disabilities. Click here for a list of EIPIC centres catering to children with autism.

If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is already provided, he can still attend ad-hoc therapy sessions offered by other SSAs or private intervention centres. Adults can also consider therapy services to overcome challenges they face in independent living, working and socialising. However, intervention is generally more effective if started at a young age.

There are various schools of thought and approaches to therapy for persons with autism. Some, like Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), are more widely practised; others, like the use of hyperbaric chambers, are less so. Others are often considered ineffective by medical professionals. Caregivers are encouraged to consider mainstream evidence-based forms of therapy, and to seek advice from medical professionals before starting any form of therapy. More information can be found here.

Other useful information:

 

Child and adult care

Actions To Take

  • Consider day care, residential, or home-based care options which can cater to your various caregiving needs.
  • Consider the need to be your child’s court-appointed deputy to make decisions on their behalf if they lack mental capacity when they reach the legal age of 21.


Day care, residential programmes and other care services are available to support persons with autism. The type of service needed varies according to an individiual’s needs and the level of support that his caregiver can provide.


Services and programmes

Caregivers looking for childcare and before/after-school care may consider services such as the Integrated Child Care Programme (ICCP) for pre-schoolers aged two to six, or Special Student Care Centres (SSCCs) for students aged seven to 18. More information can be found here.

For youths and adults, care services like Sheltered Workshops and Day Activity Centres (DACs) provide a safe environment offering therapy and training, as well as full-day supervision. For others, getting a job may be a goal to aim for as it is a step towards financial security and participation in society.

Organisations like Autism Association (Singapore) have activity-based programmes that aim to enhance the social integration of persons with disabilities.

Eden Activity Club (EAC) by Autism Association (Singapore) provide social integration opportunities specifically for adults with autism who are currently without employment or support services. This programme is conducted every Saturday, and it includes activities like sports, music and outings. Please contact the programme to find out more and check for eligibility.

In light of enhance safe distancing measures for COVID-19, most activities are now being conducted in small groups for its members, or suspended for the time-being.


Future Care Planning 

Caregivers of people who lack mental capacity can apply to be their deputy. This gives the deputy the authority to make important decisions where necessary, such as those involving personal welfare and health, property ownership, and finances. As children with autism approach the age of 21, parents may want to consider applying to be their court-appointed deputies – the Assisted Deputyship scheme will help them do this, or they can approach the Office of the Public Guardian directly. More information can be found here

Other useful information:


Education

Actions To Take

  • Consider enrolling your pre-schooler into an inclusive or integrated preschool.
  • Find out more information and consider the different factors before enrolling your child into either a SPED school or mainstream school.


Children and youths with autism have several education pathways they can choose from, depending on their individual needs and abilities.


Pre-school

Apart from early intervention programmes, pre-schoolers may enrol in inclusive or integrated pre-schools.


Special education and mainstream school

Education is compulsory up to age 15 in Singapore, so children from age seven will need to enrol in either Special Education (SPED) schools or mainstream primary schools.

A number of SPED schools in Singapore admit children with autism. Mainstream schools support children with mild autism, with the assistance of allied educators and teachers trained in special needs education. They work closely with community partners and parents on suitable school-based intervention and support.

Parents may consult medical professionals, social workers or teachers to seek their recommendations on whether their child should go to a SPED school or mainstream school. The links below also provide useful information.

Service providers:
Other useful information:

 

Employment

Actions To Take

  • Consider various programmes (training, internships and mentorships) to prepare for working life.
  • Explore skills upgrading and job placement opportunities.
  • Find out more information on training and employment.


Work training and skills upgrading

There are various initiatives for students with special needs leaving the school system, to help them prepare for working life. These include internships and vocational training.

There are also many training courses offered at subsidised rates, and which are customed for persons with disabilities to upgrade their skills and enhance their employability. There are also grants and subsidies available to help defray training costs.

Finding employment

Job seekers can look into services and schemes designed to help them secure and hold down a job. Organisations such as Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) provides a suite of services to support persons with autism who are looking for employment. 

Other useful information:
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Resources and Support

Other forms of disability support

An overview of disability support can be found on our Introduction page.

Money Matters

Information on financial assistance schemes, subsidies and grants.

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Transport

Information on accessibility features of public transport, concession cards.

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Assistive Technology

Hearing aids, Braille devices, magnifiers and other assistive technology to help you live and work more independently.

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Leisure & Recreation

Arts and sports venues, and other places of interest with barrier-free accessibility.

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