SAFE (Support Autism through Family Empowerment)
in Homes of Children with Autism
Partner: KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH)
The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is increasing. Better understanding and awareness of developmental issues in children among parents and early childhood educators are among the reasons for this trend over the last 5 years. Many of these children are also being detected at a younger age. When the child is first diagnosed, parents need information and support to understand their behaviour, manage and meet their needs, and teach them new skills. Parents are often keen to start intervention for their child as early as possible, while awaiting enrollment in an EIPIC centre.
SAFE is a 3-year pilot programme by the Department of Child Development at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH DCD) which aims to build capabilities in the homes of 360 children with ASD aged 2 - 4. Backed by a KKH DCD trans-disciplinary team comprising a paediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, social workers and case workers, it hopes to help families provide a safe and conducive home environment to support the development of the child. A member of the team serves as a Family Support Facilitator (FSF) and makes regular visits to homes to work with parents.
Under the programme, parents are provided with knowledge and taught skills to manage the daily home routines of the child, such as feeding, bathing, going to bed, getting ready for school, etc. Parents are also engaged to draw up Individual Family Support Plans with specific goals for the child with ASD.
One parent put it this way, “SAFE has given me hope, the hope that my child can learn and do things!”
The SAFE pilot aims to develop an evidence-based model for early support at home for children with ASD that is effective for the Singapore community.