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Does your child have special needs?
Guide on choosing Specialist Services For Your Child
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Choosing a Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Educational Support Teacher for your child is a difficult task. This is especially so now that there is an increasing amount of people and centres offering these services within Singapore.

It is possible to obtain a list of Local Support Services for children with special needs. These can be sought from a variety of specialist centres and schools depending on the area of special needs that your child has. For example, the Autism Resource Centre has a list of professionals that work specifically with children with autism. Also, if you speak to the staff at these centres, they will generally be able to give you verbal recommendations as to who would be most suitable to teach your child. Additionally, the local special needs schools and some International schools, such as the Singapore American School and United World College have their own list of professionals that they refer their children to.

How can you find out which therapy is most suitable for your child?

SPEECH THERAPY

A Speech Therapist helps to assist in the following areas:
· Language difficulties/disorders: encoding/decoding, dysphasia/aphasia, delayed or deviant language development, etc.
· Articulation disorders: substitution, distortion or omission of sounds (phoneme) or addition of extra sounds, etc.
· Fluency disorders: irregular rate, continuity and muscular effort when speaking, etc.
· Voice disorders: atypical pitch, intensity, quality, etc.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

Occupational Therapy is the treatment given to help a child towards greater independence. They address areas such as:
· Activities of Daily Living: feeding, dressing, toiletting, bathing, play/leisure skills and vocational skills, etc.
· Gross Motor Skills: postural stability, balancing issues and coordination, etc.
· Fine Motor Skills: manipulation and dexterity, pencil and scissor control, handwriting skills, hand-eye coordination and bilateral skills, etc.
· Social and Emotional Skills: self esteem, interactional skills, management of feelings, etc.
· Visual-Perceptual Skills: spatial awareness, visual discrimination, memory skills, etc.
· Sensory Skills: tactile defensiveness, sensory processing difficulties, etc.

PHYSIOTHERAPY

Physiotherapists often work closely with Occupational Therapists. They also address similar areas although are based more on gross motor skills such as: muscle strength and endurance, joint motion, posture, balance, body mechanics and the function of the heart and lungs. They concentrate on how to perform daily tasks and recreational activities, etc.

EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT

An Educational Support Teacher works on all academic and social areas in need of development. This includes language/communication, writing/pre-writing, mathematics/cognition, fine and gross motor skills, social interaction and play skills. They should work independently or along side the schools individual educational programme, if applicable.

How can you find out which therapist is best for your child?

A good therapist is someone who:
· is willing to help you as well as your child.
· is willing to listen and do more than just the hourly session with your child.
· is willing to become more involved in your child’s schooling and to liaise with the teachers and other therapists, where applicable.
· is willing to give you feedback on each session and give you ideas for future goals.
· is happy to listen to your own ideas and take them seriously.


RATES FOR THERAPY

Choosing a therapist by their price rate does not dictate how good they are. For example, by going to the most expensive does not mean that you will get the best. Similarly, by going to the cheapest does not mean that you will get the worst; it also might not mean, however, that you will be getting the best value for money. It is therefore important to enquire about other issues such as qualifications and experience first, before letting the price sway you.

The rate for individual Speech, Occupational, Physiotherapy and Educational Support can range from $80 to $130 per hour.

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