Chithra Kathiresan is a speech-language therapist who has lived and worked in Singapore for 25 years. She trains professionals, parents and teachers extensively in Singapore and the region. She is a passionate speaker and leads highly engaging sessions, that are tailored to spark curiosity, inspire and move people to action. She is the co-founder and clinical director of Connect and Communicate in Singapore, a private practice dedicated to social communication and supporting relating and thinking across the lifespan. Social Thinking®, DIR® Floortime™ and Hanen® are cornerstones of this multi-disciplinary practice, that sees children as young as 1 year of age, all the way to adults in their late 20s.
After graduating from Flinders University of South Australia, Chithra began her career in Singapore, working with adults with social cognitive deficits following stroke or traumatic brain injury. At the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Neuroscience Institute, she worked first in acute care, followed by leading speech therapy services at their then newly founded rehabilitation center. She was responsible for the development of speech, social, cognitive and feeding rehabilitation programs for adult and geriatric patients.
She missed working with children and moved to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. Here she gained comprehensive experience working with infants and children, from birth to early adolescence, with a wide variety of communication, cognition, play, social interaction, oral-motor and feeding difficulties. Her broad experience includes evaluating and providing therapy for children with autism, cerebral palsy, cleft lip and/or palate, genetic abnormalities, speech or language delay, global developmental delay, premature infants, literacy and learning difficulties. Chithra headed speech therapy at the Women's and Children's hospital and was responsible for the planning and development of services in the hospital, and follow-up care within the community. Chithra is certified in pediatric dysphagia and worked and taught extensively in feeding and swallowing dysfunction, while working in the hospitals. She conducted numerous talks, seminars and workshops for nurses, doctors, caregivers and other professionals. She was actively involved in raising public awareness and educating professionals through forums and scientific meetings. This love for learning and sharing her experience has not ceased and continues to grow.
After her second child, Chithra left the hospital and started consulting at a large multi-disciplinary private practice in Singapore. She was extremely influenced by the OTs in the practice. She eagerly sought further training, including in Sensory Integration and M.O.R.E. Engaging parents as active partners in the therapeutic process is her forte. She is Hanen™ certified in It Takes Two to Talk™ (1997, Singapore), More Than Words™ (2003, Australia) and Talkability™ (2010, Australia) programs. She conducted the inaugural More Than Words™ program in Singapore in 2004, and continued to conduct 2-3 Hanen® parent training programs every year until she founded her practice, Connect and Communicate, in 2013. Chithra recognizes the pivotal role that parents play in the healthy social-emotional development of their child. She is highly versatile and proficient in coaching parents, both 1:1 and through tailored parent group sessions.
In 2003, Chithra was introduced to DIR® Floortime™ and has pursued it since. She sought intensive mentoring in the model, from senior DIR faculty. She presented to faculty at DIR Summer Institutes in the US, as part of her certification process. In 2012, she was certified as a DIR Floortime Expert by ICDL, a US-based DIR certification body. In 2014, she embarked on a year-long DIR trainer certification with Profectum, in their first program led by Dr. Serena Weider, co-founder of DIR® Floortime™. Chithra is a DIR Trainer with Profectum and teaches in the Profectum Academy online training programs. Chithra tutors professionals undergoing certification, has co-presented a DIR workshop in Australia with senior DIR Faculty, and presents several workshops in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Her quest for supporting school going kids with effective tools and strategies that could be easily incorporated into the classroom, led her to Social Thinking®. She loves this model, that seeks to understand minds from the inside out and explain social intuition in a most simplistic and accessible manner. Chithra was introduced to Social Thinking® in 2005 and was completely sold! She attended mentorship and training with the founder Michelle Garcia Winner in 2006, and further clinical training at her Centre in San Jose in 2008, as well as the inaugural Social Thinking Providers conference. She regularly attends the Social Thinking Providers Conference in San Francisco and the trainers meet, to ensure she is abreast with latest developments in Social Thinking. Up keeping fidelity to the model is a priority. Chithra was invited to be a member of the Social Thinking® Training and Speakers Collaborative (STTSC) in 2012. She is the approved and qualified trainer for Social Thinking in Asia. Her company Connect and Communicate, are the regional distributors for social thinking books and materials and operate the website socialthinking.sg. Chithra has trained on Social Thinking in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. She has presented at SENIA meets (Special Education Network in Asia) and the Social Thinking Providers Conference in San Francisco. She holds an active clinical caseload, with many school-going kids, all the way to tertiary institutions. Chithra conducts social thinking evaluations, provides individual therapy as well as run many social thinking group programs. In addition to conducting workshops, she tirelessly talks to schools and support teams.
Her wealth and breadth of experience across the life span, has shaped and defines her clinical practice and teaching. Chithra is dedicated to understanding individuals from within, and educating and empowering systems to facilitate change in the individual. She grows and continues to learn with her students and families. She has the unique privilege of watching development unfold, as many of her clients continue to periodically invite her into their lives. She believes all learning and teaching, begins with respect and relationship.
Chithra is guest lecturer and clinical educator for the NUS MSc. Speech Language Pathology program. She supervises interns from the NUS MSc program over the last 10 years. She also mentors selected teams and individuals from other organizations, locally and abroad.
Chithra founded and leads the Social Communication Special Interest Group of Speech and Language Therapy Singapore (SALTS), the local professional body. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and she aspires to shape the landscape of speech therapy in Singapore.
Her organization, Connect and Communicate hosts training and brings great minds and prolific speakers to Singapore, including Michelle Garcia Winner.
In addition to Social Thinking workshops, Chithra has presented many Hanen and DIR Floortime trainings as well as numerous parent and teacher talks.
Chithra is happily married for 25 years. She loves trying new foods, meeting people new and old, jazz and classical music, great plays, dance concerts, philosophy, art and crafts, listening to inspirational stories, swimming, travelling, exploring breath-taking views and quiet walks. She is immensely proud of her fine 20-year-old son and beautiful 18-year-old daughter. These two capable young people, have taught her first hand about the intricacies of social relationships and parenting.
Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees.
Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationships exist.