#Children's Rights
Ministry of Social and Family Development

I am Brian's mother. He was given a diagnosis of suspected autism in late April 2016 when he was about just 20 months. The only reason why it is not a full diagnosis is because he is under 3 years old. Upon knowing Brian's condition, my husband decided not work to focus his time on him, alongside our 2 other young children. We became a single-income household, effectively even qualifying for CHAS once the year of income assessment renews in 2017.

The heart of our appeal is a need for speech and occupational therapies at a frequency that will help us replicate what expert therapists are doing to help him. Not even at the 20 hours a week recommendation from what research have shown (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130084720.htm), but a desperate grasp at getting resources to support what we can try at home with Brian.

This began our journey of realizing there is very limited help for autistic children who are diagnosed before three. Subsided therapies at Jurong Medical Centre (JMC) can only be booked once a fortnight for 4 sessions. That is 4 therapies over 2 months. Then we cannot book any sessions until the 4 sessions are used up and we end up with 1-2 months of not having any subsidized therapies. Government endorsed therapy centres known as Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) have a typical wait time of 9-12 months from time of registration to actual assessment to enrollment.

We decided to try the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (Enhanced PPIP) to at least have a therapy session a week so my husband can replicate the exercises at home while waiting for a EIPIC centre. We went through the prescribed route of seeking a recommendation letter from JMC, worked with SG Enable and went all the way to seek an appeal to get a monthly $500 subsidy under the Enhanced PPIP as my son simply is too young for all the recommended programs. The minimum age is 2.5 years old for most of the centres under this scheme. The private therapies cost $170 per 1 hour session.

Today, after 2 months of private therapies whenever we can't get subsidised therapies, Brian is showing progress in terms of eye contact with loved ones and singular and double word utterances when he used to only cry and whine. However, we had 2 months of long silence from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), where repeated appeals via email and phone calls to SG Enable and MSF gave us more despair and pain. The latest call from a MSF representative (she did not email her response) to try to account for the delay in processing of our appeal was that MSF is even considering scrapping the one-to-one intervention appeal cases, without even realising that my son is on appeal because the Enhanced PPIP does not factor in very young toddlers or even babies that have been diagnosed by doctors as awareness about autism increases (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-preschoolers/2515698.html).


We, call upon MSF to hasten their response to Brian's appeal, given that the family has limited family income and needs information to plan their financial resources. We also want MSF to state resources that can be committed to autistic children under 3 years old who need state support, especially when the families need financial assistance to help their young children develop better in preparation for compulsory enrollment into MOE schools by 2019 (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/school-a-must-for-special-needs-children).

This is in light of research that shows that it is crucial that children under three are different from those older, and that effective therapies can lessen the severity of their autism in the maximum manner possible (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/136/Supplement_1/S60).

The signatures will be presented to MSF in the first week of 2017 as a sign of hope that young children under three with diagnosed or suspected autism can get the help they need from MSF.

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The Appeal for therapy subsidy for children with autism under 2.5 years old petition to Ministry of Social and Family Development was written by Madeline Lim and is in the category Children's Rights at GoPetition.