Here’s another rather interesting programme brought to you by the Autism Resource Centre (ARC). Valerie took the opportunity to visit ARC’s recent Open House to find out more about the WeCAN Early Intervention Programme (WeCAN EIP). Continue reading to find out more!
Autism Resource Centre (ARC) held an Open House for their WeCAN Early Intervention Programme (EIP) on 17 July, Monday which aimed to provide the public with a more comprehensive knowledge of the programmes they were offering. The programme was developed to meet the needs of young children with autism and their families, and this objective seemed like a pressing need due to the high turnout of concerned parents eager to find out more about early intervention programs available for their children diagnosed with autism.
Internationally accredited by the Early Intervention Programme since 2008 (by the National Autistic Society, United Kingdom), WeCAN EIP was developed to provide early intervention for young children, aged 18 months to 6 years, diagnosed with autism. The programme’s developers strongly believe in equipping caregivers well in order to enable them to assist their children with autism achieve their full potential by being an active participant in their child’s intervention team. Therefore, parent participation is a critical component in ARC’s program where parents are highly involved in the individual educational planning of each child. This includes personal class observations and reflections, hands-on practice sessions in class, outings and parent communication nights.
The Early Intervention Programme is built on the following guiding principles:
- Individualised – Skills that are functional and useful to each,
- Meaningful to Child – What they look forward to when they come to school,
- Spontaneous Use of Skills – For children to attain lesser support from adult in future,
- Generalisation – Ability to use same skill in different settings,
- Maintenance – To maintain current skill learnt and progressively build other skills upon it moving forward.
A walk around the school campus and taking a look at the various classrooms used for the different levels within the programme revealed various focus areas, ranging from work habits to self-regulation, functional communication to social skills, life skills to curriculum skills, with a gradual development of social relationship skills. This is to ensure effective early intervention where, after the diagnosis of the child, children are able to learn how to be with other people, learn how to learn, acquire crucial skills for pre-school, and eventually are prepared for Primary School.
Closing off the Open House with a Q&A session, it was clear from the issues raised that the most pressing concern facing parents of children with autism was the waiting list to enter Early Intervention Programs (EIPs) and Special Education (SPED) Schools. This is a matter of supply and demand where the number of students wanting to enroll, far outnumber the available teachers. Keeping in mind that in such programmes and schools, the teacher-student ratio per class tends to be much smaller than that of a mainstream school.
And this is where DPA’s work in raising awareness amongst Singaporeans comes into play. It is for reasons such as these, where students lose out on meaningful engagement and specialized curriculum, that we encourage more individuals who are looking to become teachers, develop their skills as a special needs educator.