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Singapore Government

Prevalence of children with learning disabilities per cohort

Prevalence of children with learning disabilities per cohort


Ms Sun Xueling
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development what is the percentage of children in a cohort who suffer from learning disabilities and whether there are programmes which the Ministry supports at a pre-school level to encourage children with learning disabilities to learn through play and interaction.

Written Answer

My Ministry works closely with KKH and NUH in the Child Development Programme to detect developmental delays in young children at the pre-school stage. While general developmental delays can be detected earlier, learning disabilities typically become clearer at a later stage in children, closer to the school-going age.

At a young age, children develop and learn at very different paces. A child’s development can also be impacted by environmental factors such as exposure and teaching styles. The pre-school years are too early to make a definite diagnosis for learning disabilities. Learning difficulties are diagnosed conclusively at a later stage; closer to school-going age than at the pre-school stage. About 5% of our student population have been diagnosed with special educational needs.

Pre-school children, aged 5 and 6, with mild developmental delays or learning needs are supported by the Developmental Support Programme (DSP). DSP is currently offered in some 300 pre-school centres and have catered to more than 2,000 children since its inception in 2013. Children on the DSP are given the necessary support to level up their developmental domains for school readiness. The programme also enables these children to benefit from a mainstream and inclusive learning environment. With early intervention through the DSP, the child will develop the competencies he or she requires for Primary 1.

Children with more severe developmental needs are supported through the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) which is currently available at 17 EIPIC centres across the island.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is working with training institutes to equip pre-school teachers with the necessary skills to support children with learning and developmental needs. Learning through play and interaction with children are key concepts in the early childhood pedagogy. Many of the training for pre-school teachers have embedded techniques on play and interaction in the training programmes. In-service pre-school teachers can also tap on the subsidised Continuing Professional Development courses, such as the Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Learning Support (SDELS), to enhance their skills in supporting children with developmental needs.

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