Should My Child Attend A Special Needs School? What Are Our Options?
Worried that your child might have special learning needs? This may be the case, if your child — at the point of entering Primary 1 — finds it difficult to:
- Write their name
- Follow a simple read-aloud story
- Communicate with others
- Make friends
- Access learning due to hearing, visual, or physical impairments
If your child is below seven years old and attending preschool, it’s best to seek the advice of your child’s teachers, as well as your child’s paediatrician if developmental milestones have not been met. If they share your concerns, the next step would be to have your child assessed by a qualified professional.
Do be prepared: a special needs assessment is a thorough and time-consuming process that will include tests for your child to gauge developmental gaps, interviews with your child’s educators and caregivers, and a holistic analysis of all the findings from different sources.
To minimise research on your part, you can contact these public hospitals directly to schedule an assessment for your child:
- The Department of Child Development at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
- The Child Development Unit at National University Hospital (NUH).
For parents with budget concerns, do note that you should be eligible for a subsidy if your child is referred to KKH and NUH by polyclinics and Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) clinics — please enquire with the clinics that you consult for the most updated and accurate information. (Read more about assessments here.)
Currently, about 80 percent of students with special learning needs are taught in mainstream schools, while the remaining 20 percent with higher needs attend special education or SPED schools.
Below, we’ve highlighted some SPED schools that have clear information about their programmes and admission processes on their websites, so that you can get a quick overview of the available options in Singapore. For a full list of SPED schools, please refer to the Ministry of Education’s website.
Special Schools For Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Eden School serves children from age seven to 18, and it adopts a curriculum that aims to prepare students on the autism spectrum for their adult lives in the following domains:
- To be able to care for their own personal needs
- To participate in routine social interactions in the community
- To be able to transition between different activities and locations
- To undertake meaningful vocational jobs consistent with their skills and abilities
- To appropriately occupy their leisure time
Find out more about Eden School’s admissions criteria, process, and fees here.
Established by the Metta Welfare Association (a Buddhist organisation), Metta School offers special education to students between seven and 21. The school accepts individuals with mild intellectual disability (IQ level 70 to 50) and/or autism spectrum disorder. Their curriculum aims to help students:
- Have self confidence
- Understand themselves and the world around them
- Manage themselves and their relations with others
- Participate effectively and contribute to the community
Find out more about Metta School’s admissions process here.
Pathlight School accepts students from age seven to 21, and it is an autism-focused school that blends a mainstream academic curriculum together with life-readiness skills.
Children aged seven who are able to access mainstream academics, but require additional time to build their school readiness for a mainstream school, can also benefit from Pathlight’s Primary 1 Foundation Programme.
Find out more about Pathlight’s admissions criteria, process, and fees here.
Special Schools For Mild Intellectual Disability
You can browse the APSN network of schools, which serves children from age seven to 21. Schools include:
- Chaoyang School (for seven to 12 year olds)
- Katong School (for seven to 16 year olds)
Special Schools For Moderate-To-Severe Intellectual Disability
You can browse the MINDS network of schools, which serves children from age seven to 18. Schools include:
Special Schools For Multiple Disabilities
The Rainbow Centre network of schools serves children from age seven to 18. Specifically, their schools at Margaret Drive and Yishun cater for children with multiple disabilities, and you can read about their programmes and admissions process here.
Special Schools For Sensory Impairment
Sensory impairments include hearing loss and vision issues. Locally, Canossian School caters for children aged seven to 14 with hearing loss, while Lighthouse School is for children from seven to 18 with hearing and/or vision challenges. Check the school websites for information about school programmes and admission procedures.