Nanyang Poly students build portal for parents of special-needs children
SINGAPORE — At nine months old, Mr Glenn Tan’s son was diagnosed with global development delay. This set off many questions in Mr Tan’s mind, such as whether his child would be able to get along with his peers or attend a mainstream school.
He shared the anxiety he experienced through a new web portal developed by School of Health Sciences students from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). He said: “Parents are at a loss when their child is first diagnosed with a disability. Through this new portal, (we) are able to gain the emotional support (we) need by hearing from other parents and their experiences, and also be empowered.”
Project Epic (Empowering Parents, Inspiring Children) is an online site specifically designed for parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and global developmental delay, the NYP said in a media release yesterday.
It features demo videos that show parents working with their special-needs children, inspiring parent-child stories, online news resources and websites with reliable and curated information, as well as a “roadmap to empowerment”.
The portal aims to bridge the gap when parents need support before their children are enrolled in the Government’s structured Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC). A child with special needs may wait between three and 24 months before he or she is enrolled in EIPIC. While waiting, the child may receive physical or speech therapy, for example, but the support is very limited and infrequent.
After discussions with professionals, including speech and occupational therapists, social workers and an educational psychologist, as well as interviewing 19 parents of children with special needs, NYP students developed Project Epic to help parents through this interim period.
Lovinia Laurentia Choe Jin Wei, 19, a student involved in the project, said: “We want parents to be the key to (and do the most for) their child’s development … (before) the intervention.”
Since the portal went live in August last year, the site has received more than 4,300 views.
Although there are other sites for these parents, Project Epic has gained positive feedback because of its Singapore link, and because parents identify with others raising children in the same environment.