This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, view our privacy policy.

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is mainly established by a measure of a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ of 70 or below), and people with this disability have more difficulty in grasping concepts and solving problems. Intellectual disability is also a feature of medical conditions such as Down Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome and Williams Syndrome.

Here you will find information on the social supports available for persons with intellectual disabilities, resources and stories of people going through the same journey.

 

Therapy & intervention

Rehabilitation and therapy can help persons with intellectual disabilities improve or even regain certain functions that were lost due to co-morbid conditions or medical conditions. For instance, speech therapy could help people with intellectual disabilities better express themselves and interact with others.

For children, early intervention helps minimise the onset of additional developmental delays or disabilities.


Services & programmes

Parents who suspect their child has an intellectual disability can get assistance from a medical professional to assess the child’s development and to recommend suitable early intervention programmes if needed.

EIPIC is likely the most common programme for children with special needs. Activities at EIPIC centres aim to maximise the child’s developmental growth potential and minimise the development of secondary disabilities.


Ad-hoc therapy for children and adults

If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is already provided, he can still go for therapy sessions offered by other VWOs or private intervention centres. Adults who acquired intellectual disabilities, for example, due to traumatic brain injury, can also consider therapy services to overcome challenges they face in independent living, working and socialising.


Other useful information:

 

Child & adult care

Day care, residential programmes and other care services are available to support people with intellectual disabilities. The type of service needed would vary based on the person’s needs and the level of support that his caregiver can provide.


Centre-based care

For caregivers looking for childcare and before- or after-school care, they could consider inclusive pre-schools which offer lessons catered to children of varied abilities, or before/after-school care at Special Student Care Centres (SSCCs) for students aged 7 to 18. More information can be found in the Child & Adult Care section of this website.

For youths and adults, care options include sheltered workshops, where people engage in simple vocational tasks under close supervision in a dedicated setting, and Day Activity Centres (DACs). Where possible, getting a job is something to consider as it is a step towards financial security and participation in society.


Home-based care

For help at home, foreign domestic workers or home-based care services by VWOs are possible options. More information can be found on the Child & Adult Care section of this website.


Residential care

But for adults who are unable to get adequate care support at home, residential homes and hostels offer alternative accommodation. Those with limited care support but are fully independent and have a job could consider community group homes, which are designated HDB rental flats sited in the community. But currently, places in residential care facilities are limited and should be considered only by people who have exhausted all other avenues of community-based services. More information can be found in our Child & Adult Care section.


Future care planning

Caregivers of persons who lack mental capacity can apply to be their deputy. This gives them the power to make important decisions on certain matters on their behalf, including personal welfare and health, ownership of property, and finance matters. As children with intellectual disabilities 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 in our Child & Adult Care section.


Other useful information:

 

Education

Children and youths with disabilities have a few choices in their education pathways – the exact choice would depend 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 7 will need to enrol in either Special Education (SPED) schools or mainstream primary schools.

About half the SPED schools in Singapore serve students with intellectual disabilities, from mild to severe.

Mainstream schools are better suited for children who have the cognitive ability to access the mainstream curriculum, and whose needs can be met with minimal adaptation (e.g. with the use of assistive devices).

Not every child is diagnosed with intellectual disability by school age, or may be diagnosed as having borderline intellectual disability, leaving parents with the unenviable decision of whether to put their child in SPED or mainstream education.

Choosing education systems can be tricky, and parents can speak to medical professionals, social workers or teachers to seek their recommendations. Parents who have gone through the same journey may also be able to share their personal experience. But ultimately, each child is different, and decisions should be made in his/ her best interests.

The links below also provide useful information:


Service providers:

Other useful information:

 

Preparing for work

There are initiatives in SPED schools to help students with disabilities prepare for working life. Metta School and APSN Delta Senior School offer vocational education programmes to eligible students with mild intellectual disability from the age of 16 years; these eventually lead to national (WSQ and NITEC) certification.

People who acquired an intellectual disability due to accidents or illness may find it tough to get back to their old jobs or prepare for a new career. They could also consider SG Enable's Hospital-to-Work programme, which offers services including rehabilitation, skills training and employment assistance.

 

Employment and skills upgrading

Job seekers can check out services and schemes designed to help them secure and hold down a job.

Some organisations, including the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), provide a suite of services to support persons with intellectual disabilities who want to work. There are also training courses offered at subsidised rates and customised for persons with disabilities.


Other useful info:

Featured articles:

Other forms of disability support

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

Money Matters

Information on financial assistance schemes, subsidies and grants.

icon_money_matter 

Transport

Information on accessibility features of public transport, concession cards.

illustrations-transport 

Assistive Technology

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

icon_assistive_tech 

Leisure & Recreation

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

illustrations-leisure