By Dr Ang Yong Guan
I find the whole saga of “managing Amos” baffling.
First, months ago, Amos’ mother told the court that Amos was assessed on 2 separate occasions before the trial began, by IMH psychiatrist(s).
Weeks later in court, when Amos rejected probation, he was remanded in prison for 3 weeks to assess his suitability for RTC (Reformative Training Centre).
What was the diagnosis given to Amos by the team of psychiatrists and psychologists who assessed him? Did they agree with Dr Munidasa Winslow, who assessed Amos’s suitability for RTC, that Amos might have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder)? Was their report tendered in court yesterday (23 June 2015)?
If they had concluded that Amos is NOT suitable for RTC, couldn’t they also comment whether Amos is suitable for MTO (Mandatory Treatment Order) because after all, all psychiatrists, besides diagnosing a patient, are also supposed to provide a treatment plan (which will include medications, counselling, treatment (e.g. MTO as an outpatient or an in-patient in an institution such as RTC or IMH) and support for caregivers.
Now, is the remand at IMH for a further 2 weeks to assess his suitability for MTO (Mandatory Treatment Order) necessary?
Especially after spending a gruelling 3 weeks at RTC, also for the purpose of assessment?
Hence, in total, we are saying Amos needs 5 weeks for assessment, first for suitability for RTC and now, for MTO!
Instead of remand at IMH for 2 weeks, shouldn’t Amos be assessed as an outpatient regarding suitability for MTO?
Moreover, shouldn’t the psychiatrist(s) who had previously seen him at IMH also provide a report to the court to state a) their diagnosis of Amos, and b) whether he is suitable for MTO?
Essentially, what the judge needs to know are:
- What is the diagnosis? (Thus far, at least 3 sets of psychiatrists have seen him: IMH, prison and Dr Winslow).
- What kind of “treatment” (if needed at all) is best for Amos given the diagnosis of these psychiatrists - RTC or MTO or etc?
- If Amos needs further assessment can it be done as an outpatient?
Finally, conventional psychiatric treatment does not work for some teenagers with ASD.
What Amos needs are creative mental health professionals who can customise a treatment plan specifically for him so as to engage him and motivate him to have healthy ways of coping and mastering life.
For instance, the Israeli Defense Force achieved a series of operational successes recently thanks to a group of soldiers with autism who contributed their unique abilities to Intelligence Unit 9900.
Read the article here: "IDF Intelligence Unit Using Soldiers With Autism Produces Stellar Results".
The writer is a psychiatrist who runs the Ang Yong Guan Psychiatry clinic located at Paragon Medical. He is former president of the Singapore Psychiatric Association.
The views expressed here are his own and do not represent any organisation he may be associated with.
The article was first posted on Dr Ang's Facebook page here.