Therapy 101: Go Private or Subsidised?

There’s an update on Nadine’s development. I made an important decision that is a major turnaround from my previous stand.

Nadine Improvements

Some time in April 2013 , I decided to put her through the official system of getting her diagnosed. This meant sending her to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

KK Hospital

For a long while, (in fact, I tell many people too!) my stand was: if you can afford therapy via the private route, go for it. Don’t go for government subsidised therapy. 

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking down on medical help from subsidised hospitals. But after much observation and talking to various medical professionals in both private and government sectors, there is a manpower shortage in government hospitals. This means, many many patients versus little medical professionals. Simply put, the wait is long.

While waiting

In Nadine’s case, time is not on her side. As mentioned previously, early intervention is important. And we need consistent intervention to have any results. We all know that a therapy session every 4 months is not considered consistent intervention. (Sadly, that’s the best KK’s Department of Child Development (DCD) can offer) To be fair, you are given an option to have weekly therapy sessions, but only for 4 weeks. Thereafter, you have to join the queue and wait for the next available slot.


Here’s the timeline of my experience in KK Hospital thus far:

5 April 2013 – Visit to Polyclinic to get a referral letter to KK’s DCD

30 April 2013 – 1st visit to KK. Saw a consultant doctor in the DCD. This visit was to ascertain that Nadine has developmental issues. Once that was established, we were then assigned a Child Development Paediatrician. Earliest date? 3 months later!

17 July 2013 – The all important meeting with the expert. She accessed Nadine, made her do some tests, run here and there, check her reflexes, basically a very complete medical examination on her development. 1st conclusion: Nadine needs speech therapy. 1st advice: would you like to continue with your current therapist in the private sector?

Even the expert knew, for best consistent help, KK hospital is unable to support consistently for more that that initial 4 weeks.

Next, the expert advised that Nadine has to go for further tests to establish her development. This meant Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment, Physiotherapy assessment and Hearing Test. (Note: There were others in the list, but it wasn’t necessary for Nadine)

That first important meeting with the expert ended with us making our next appointment with her in February 2014. (Yes, that’s not a typo) Meanwhile, we will continue with the speech therapy, and follow through with whatever happens at the OT, Physio and Hearing assessment.


We just went for the Hearing Test last week. The other two OT and Physio ones are in September.

Thus, 4 months have passed since April, and effectively, Nadine has not started on any therapy with KK DCD. She has only completed a portion of the diagnostic tests, and we would only find out more next month after she completes the rest. Early intervention is happening, but really at a very slow pace.

So the question is, Why did you go and visit the KK DCD?

Friends have told me, it would mean that Nadine’s official records will state such developmental issues. It may be a stigma to her. It would also mean that the education system (read: EVERY teacher from Primary School to at least Secondary) would have access to her ‘state’. And it may be a problem for her getting insurance in future, if there’s any exclusions needed for pre-existing conditions.

If that’s the case, then WHY?

Only one reason. So that Nadine’s development issues are documented. Period.

It won’t be a stigma because anyone who spends time long enough with her would realise she is a little slower in expressing herself. I want EVERY teacher to know she has this issue so they extend grace when she can’t answer the question or is unable to comprehend certain instructions. I want her to have access to any Learning Support groups in the school, have best possible support from the Allied Educators in the school system.

Now if you ask, “should I send my child in for assessment or therapy at KK’s Department of Child Development?”

I wouldn’t be so quick to say DON’T. I also wouldn’t be so quick to say GO. There are factors to consider (as above). Think about it and make a decision fast. Although this is not a life & death scenario, for every delay, the window we have to help the child gets smaller and smaller. One comforting thought: the fact that a parent asks this question, is in itself, a big step forward in the child’s development.

Nadine confidence

This is part of a series I’ve started – Ther­apy 101, to doc­u­ment Nadine’s devel­op­men­tal strug­gles and vic­to­ries, and to jour­nal my own learn­ing expe­ri­ences as she goes through hers.

Therapy 101

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