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Autism in Singapore

Landmarks all around Singapore this month have been lit up in a blue color in order to promote World Autism Awareness Day, which was on April 2nd. Here, Pacific Prime examines how big of an impact autism has on the city, and examines treatment and resources for it. Read on to find out more.

Posted on Apr 15, 2016 by Travis Jones

You may have noticed some extra colour in Singapore Harbor lately. That’s right, the Helix Bridge, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, National Gallery and more are all being lit up in blue throughout the month of April. While the colour blue may elicit somewhat somber feelings traditionally, this blue is actually a colour of hope and unity meant to bring people together around a particular cause: Autism. Not only this, but special events are being held throughout the month, including art exhibits, music concerts and carnivals, to spread autism awareness. Since April 2nd of each year is World Autism Awareness Day, Singapore has decided to use these blue lights as a month long way to keep the condition in the public’s mind. How big of an impact does autism have on Singapore, though? Here, will look at the facts and figures surrounding the condition in the city-state, as well as how it affects families here.

 

Prevalence

The Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) has much valuable data on the disorder. According to them, in a city of 5 million people 50,000 of them have autism, which means that about 1% of Singapore’s population has the condition. Of this 50,000, 11,500 autistic people in Singapore are under the age of 19. Additionally, it is estimated that over 200 new cases of autism will be diagnosed annually going forward. The US Center for Disease control even released a report in 2014 that estimated that 1 in 68 children born will be impacted by autism. These numbers should be of major concern to new or prospective parents, as they represent a not insignificant chance that a new baby will be born autistic.

As far as what causes the disease, there are many theories, but none that have yielded definitive and undeniable proof, so there’s no way of knowing if people in Singapore are any more or less at risk of developing it as the result of factors unique to the city. Theories as to what causes autism vary from genetic predisposition to the age of parents, as well as environmental causes or epigenetic causes related to mental stress, medications or nutrition. There are even those on the fringe of the argument that wrongly accuse vaccinations as a possible link for autism, although numerous studies have been able to find zero scientific data to support this idea.

 

Impact

While the causes of autism are as of yet unknown, the effects that it has on people have been well noted. Of those children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), approximately 70 percent are considered to be mentally handicapped. This often leads to people with autism needing constant supervision at home, work and elsewhere.

Symptoms of autism include:

  • Impaired communication

  • Impaired imagination and social interaction     

  • Affinity for repetitive activities

  • Unique skills despite mental handicap, including skills related to music, numbers and letters

  • Sensitivity to noises and textures, and over-response or insensitivity to cold, heat and pain

 

Resources

There is no cure for autism, but there are treatment methods that can allow autistic people to live normal, or at least mostly normal, lives.

For young children, early intensive behavioral intervention is often used to improve the abilities of those affected by autism. This can take place at their home or at a specialized treatment facility. Therapy can be administered by a trained professional, but sometimes parents even choose to receive the training necessary to lead the therapy on their own. There are various types of therapies used including Verbal Behavior Therapy, Pivotal Response Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis and Early Start Denver Model.

Even for children as young as toddlers, structured therapies that are administered for at least 25 hours a week have proven to be effective in improving a patient’s social, communication and learning skills.

For quality information specifically regarding autism or ASD, again, the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) is a great place to start. Their website has lots of valuable data and can provide locations for support and treatment.

Being that the causes of autism are unknown, parents-to-be are going to want to make sure that their babies come out of the womb with a newborn insurance policy that agrees not to underwrite the newborn, in order to avoid rejection on coverage for autism and related treatments. Furthermore, people that already have family insurance plans will want to examine the specifics of their policies. This can be a little confusing, and the easiest way to get answers is to talk to qualified and experience insurance experts like those at Pacific Prime Singapore. Contact our agents today and they can not only answer all of your questions, but also provide you with free plan comparisons and price quotes on international health insurance plans with coverage provided for autism.

 

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