More special needs children diagnosed due to awareness

National 1 minute, 33 seconds


More children in the sultanate are diagnosed with developmental disorder issues, which is a result of better awareness among parents leading to early intervention , a health official said yesterday.

At a press conference on the transfer of the Child Development Centre (CDC) to Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS), Dr Hjh Rohayati Mohd Taib, consultant paediatrician administrative head of paediatrics at RIPAS, said there is “an appearance of an increase” of special needs children recorded at CDC.

The health expert attributed the upward trend of children with development delays to awareness and early intervention.

She noted that Brunei has come a long way from years ago when there was little awareness of developmental problems in children, when treatment services were limited and where children with challenges were undiagnosed.

“But now since we are recognising them, diagnosed and intervened early, yes, there’s an appearance of an increase,” said Dr Hjh Rohayati.

According to Senior Occupational Therapist at CDC Tsara’ Nawwarah Abdullah Chen, there are 6,000 special needs children registered at the centre.

She said the CDC has 13 health personnel, including a speech therapist, two occupational therapists, two physiotherapists, three psychologists, four doctors and a dentist.

The senior occupational therapist said autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the most common condition diagnosed among children.

“At the moment, because of the increase in awareness, with the screenings and all that, most of them are ASD children,” she said, adding that Ministry of Health offers early intervention programmes and health screening to allow children to be diagnosed early.

It was reported in 2014 that CDC records one new case of autism among children aged two and above every week.

The community paediatrician at CDC, Dr Hj Saquib Jalees, said the centre had diagnosed 340 individuals with autism in 2012.

He told The Brunei Times that one in every 1,000 individuals in Brunei has autism.

The Brunei Times