The right to education is one of the tenets of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Within Singapore’s context, this takes the form of ensuring that each student has access to an appropriate environment – be it in a mainstream or specialized environment – whereby his or her opportunities in education can be maximized. When talking about educational equity, inclusion is a significant aspect that is to be considered, especially in mainstream education, programmes should recognize the principle of inclusion and be developed in a comprehensive way by combining pre-school activities with early childhood health care” (UNESCO, 1994). That includes children with special needs who possess the academic merit to attend mainstream schools.
Children with a variety of developmental disorders have a greater chance for successful outcomes if interventions are started at an early age. This is particularly true for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The focus in Early Intervention (EI) is on early assessment and intervention prior to school entry. EI is reported to prevent decline in intellectual development and lead to improvements in most areas of deficit in autism, suggesting that early intervention for young children with ASD and successful schooling makes them less disabled.
Early intensive intervention has been identified as an important and successful means in the care and treatment of children with autistic spectrum disorders, by the 1999 practice parameters for assessment and treatment by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Developmental interventions that are intensive with a low student to adult ratio, tailor made and child directed in an environment that is organized to encourage communicative and social interactions are now recommended as best practices.
Furthermore, a 2013 study on the Impact of Early Intervention on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders as Measured by Inclusion and Retention in Mainstream Schools reports substantial gains and positive child outcomes with 58 % attending kindergarten with typically-developing students with many completing “all of elementary school in inclusive settings and into inclusive middle school placements”. These results suggest that substantial numbers of children diagnosed with mild to moderate degree of ASD, when identified and enroled in multi-disciplinary intensive early intervention, can be mainstreamed in regular schools.
To facilitate this, transition Planning and Community Acceptance are of utmost importance. Planned transition from one school year to another; from one school setting to another and from school to employment; is critical and planned Integration must start early. At Nurture Pods, our team is committed to ensuring smooth transition processes for your child. Find out more about our Early Intervention Services at www.nurturepods.com.
Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999;38:32S–54S.
National Research Council. Educating children with autism. Committee on educational interventions for children with autism. In: Lord C, McGee JP, eds. Division of behavioral and social sciences and education. Washington: National Academy Press; 2001.
Schwartz IS, Davis CA. Early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder. IMPACT—Supporting success in school and beyond for students with autism spectrum disorders. University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. 2006/7;19:14–5.