SINGAPORE: The number of preschoolers diagnosed with developmental issues is on an upward trend as doctors cited better awareness among parents and preschool teachers, leading to early referrals for diagnosis.
Latest figures provided by the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) - the two public healthcare institutions which screen and treat children aged six and below for issues including development delays, speech and language delays, learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) - showed a 76 per cent jump in cases between 2010 and 2014.
In 2014, KKH diagnosed around 3,500 new cases, while NUH had 900 new cases. Comparatively, there were about 2,500 new cases reported in total in 2010.
The top two conditions diagnosed among preschoolers are speech and language delays and ASD. For instance, children with ASD make up around two in 10 new cases seen at KKH annually. For NUH, this figure is around 25 per cent.
While doctors said that early diagnosis means these preschoolers can get timely and appropriate intervention in managing their conditions and even let them advance into mainstream schools, the waiting times to see a doctor and receive treatment remains considerably long, even though the situation has improved over the years.