An Investigation on the Effectiveness of “Dolphin Encounter for Special Children” (DESC) Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Noel Kok Hwee Chia EdD, BCET, BCSE, FCP, FCoT, FCollP
Norman Kiak Nam Kee MSc, Med
Early Childhood & Special Needs Education Academic Group, National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Keiko Watanabe
Dolphin Lagoon
Underwater World, Singapore

Pauline Tin Cheng Poh MEd, Reg.RS
Learning Disabilities Center, Singapore


Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) share the common triad of impairments in social interaction, communication, and imagination or display of stereotyped behaviors. In this study, five subjects diagnosed with ASD, aged between 6 and 13 years-old, participated in the “Dolphin Encounter for Special Children” (DESC) Program offered by the Underwater World, Singapore, and was conducted at the Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa, an island south of the mainland Singapore, for a period of 6 months. A pre- and post-treatment experimental design as well as qualitative case records was used to find out how the program had benefited the subjects and to what extent it had helped reduce their autistic traits/symptoms.

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