Chithra Kathiresan is a speech-language therapist who has lived and worked in Singapore for more than 28 years. She trains professionals, parents, and teachers extensively both locally and in 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®, DIRFloortime®, and Hanen® are cornerstones of this multi-disciplinary practice that sees children as young as one year of age, all the way to teens, youths, and adults.
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 decided to work with children and moved to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. Here she enjoyed working with infants and children, from birth to early adolescence, supporting their communication, cognition, play, social interaction, language, learning, oral-motor and/ or feeding difficulties. Her experience includes evaluating and providing therapy for children with autism, cleft lip and/or palate, genetic abnormalities, prematurity, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, fluency, voice, speech, language, 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 hospital. 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 sought further training in Sensory Integration and M.O.R.E. She believes understanding and tailoring to individual differences in processing is the key to successful intervention.
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 DIRFloortime 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 DIRFloortime. Chithra is part of the DIRFloortime Faculty at Profectum and teaches in the Profectum Academy online training programs. Chithra leads professional certificate courses, tutors professionals undergoing certification, has co-presented a DIR workshop in Australia with senior DIR Faculty, and has presented several trainings in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, 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 annual Social Thinking Providers’ Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the trainers meet to ensure she is abreast with latest developments in Social Thinking. Up keeping fidelity to the model is a priority to her.
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 operates the website socialthinking.sg. Chithra has trained on Social Thinking in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. She has presented at SENIA meets (Special Education Network in Asia) and the Social Thinking Providers’ Conference in San Francisco, California. 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, and runs many Social Thinking group programs. In addition to conducting workshops, she talks to schools and support teams to find better ways to support kids in the classroom.
Her wealth and breadth of experience across the life span has shaped and defined 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 continues to learn with her students and families. She has the unique privilege of watching development unfold, as some of her clients who started as toddlers are now young adults. She believes all learning and teaching begins with respect and relationship.
Chithra was invited to be Associate Faculty in the undergraduate Speech Therapy program at Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). Chithra is guest lecturer for the National University of Singapore (NUS) MSc Speech Language Pathology program. She is a clinical educator and teaches and supervises interns from both programs. She also mentors selected teams and individuals from other organizations, locally and abroad.
Her organization, Connect and Communicate, hosts trainings and brings great minds and prolific speakers to Singapore, including Michelle Garcia Winner. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and she aspires to shape the landscape of speech therapy in Singapore.
In addition to Social Thinking workshops, Chithra has presented many Hanen and DIRFloortime trainings, as well as numerous customized parent and teacher talks.
Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees.
Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationships exist.