1. (a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore?
Before revealing any statements to Mrs. Kong, it is essential for me as an educator who is furthermore not a specialist in Special Needs Education to prepare beforehand with relevant resources and information pertaining to the issue. Preferable, I will like to discuss the concern issue with both Mr. Kong and Mrs. Kong in an arranged meeting session. As the issue is of highly sensitive, it is beneficial for both of them to be there during the meeting to share and support each other mutually as they have no prior experiences in handling the issue.
Instead of overwhelming them with all the relevant information, I will definitely show my deepest empathy to both Mr. and Mrs. Kong. It is essential for building the trust and rapport between teacher and parents partnership. I will then firstly address both of their concerns and listening carefully to their needs. Secondly, I will draw out their elaboration on a piece of paper and use it as a reflection by the end of the session. Thirdly, I will then share information regarding children with Down Syndrome beginning with the definition and how it may affects the child’s learning. In accordance to (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009), ‘an individual with Down Syndrome experienced a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21’. They may display learning difficulties including of poor memory, slow learning rates, attention problems, difficulty generalizing what they have learned and lack of motivation (Heward, 2009). Despite of the developmental delays, children or people with Down Syndrome should still be seen as an individual who has feelings and need to be respected, love, care and support from the people around them.
Lastly, I will contribute positive views about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore. Their disabilitiness is not a hindrance for them to learn and excel in life. They may need to put in a tremendous amount of effort and require support from their families and community. They are still able to triumph and “forged own successful life paths” (Heward,2009). People with Down Syndrome can also contribute effectively to the society and able to gain a bright future in Singapore. Teachers in Singapore, especially from The Special Schools and along with the mainstream teachers are well educated or trained or somehow been exposed in the Special Needs Education to be able to “understand the nature of their learning difficulties and providing the appropriate support” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 318). Schools in Singapore are also adapting programmes that are beneficial for the learning of child with intellectual disabilities. They are The Encouraging Achievement and better Learning (ENABLE) Programme, The Learning Support Programme (LSP), the Buddy Reading and Buddy Writing programmes. (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 324 & 325).
2.(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i)Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class
As a Toddler and Senior Teacher in the centre, I will definitely encourage her to enroll Nicky into the centre. However, I will need to acknowledge and address the matter to the centre’s supervisor and the rest of the teachers beforehand so that we may gain a better understanding of her child and gather the various learning needs which maybe useful during his learning. It is essential for Early Intervention to happen at a young age so as to “reduce the affects of the disability” (Heward, 2009). Placing Nicky in a mainstream school may allow ample opportunities for him to be “heavily influenced by the environments and people around him” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.330), which will subsequently aid in his developmental progress.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome.
I will firstly assure Mrs. Kong that it is normal to have doubts and be in a denial state about Nicky’s condition as this is her first experience handling a child with Down Syndrome. To add on, Nicky is still young and he does not display the physical features of a child with Down Syndrome. I will provide her with the reassurance that there are many supports out there who are willing to help, which begins from me, the centre, her family and the society. There are also special schools as well as organizations who cater for children with intellectual disabilities and children with other disabilities such as MINDS, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled and APSN, Association for Persons with Special Needs and the Singapore Down Syndrome Association
However, I will need to put on an emphasis in regards to the matter that a specialist or a doctor maybe resourceful in areas that she may not know about Nicky. Therefore, a blood test is concrete evidence to assure her that Nicky is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I will strongly advised her to go for further assessments and collate as much information from the specialist or doctor in learning about the disability, Down Syndrome. Supports from the professionals are crucial in understanding her child’s needs better, importantly, to aid Nicky on his view of life. Supports act as the “resources and strategies that aim to promote the development, education, interests, and personal well-being of a person that enhance individual functioning ( Luckasson et al.,2002,p.15 cited from Heward, 2009)
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?
It is appropriate to disclose to Mrs. Kong about special education, special schools and inclusive education in Singapore when sharing with her about the future of children with Down Syndrome in Singapore.
During every sharing, it is important to take into accounts of Mrs. Kong queries and views. Firstly, I will introduce to her the term, special education. Heward (2000) defines special education as “a purposeful intervention. Successful interventions prevent, eliminate, and/or overcome the obstacles that might keep an individual with disabilities from learning and from full and active participation in school and society”. I will elaborate further by stating that with special education, children with disabilities maybe able to show ongoing progress in their developmental delays. It is also beneficial for the children with disabilities as they are given opportunities to learn and maximize their potential as well as strengths.
Secondly, I will then discuss with relevant information and brief description pertaining to the special schools and organizations in Singapore that cater specially for children with Down Syndrome. They are MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled), ASPSN (Association for Persons with Special Needs), Metta School and Grace Orchard School. Together with the description of the necessary information, I will acknowledge the concerns of the severity of the disability as well as the special education program adopted in the special schools.
Thirdly, as an advocator for inclusion, I will elaborate much detail regarding inclusive education in Singapore and the benefits of inclusion. Even though inclusion may not be really evident in Singapore, there have been “ significant developments in the knowledge and practice for helping students with such disabilities in mainstream educational environments (Bateman & Bateman, 2001, cited from Lim & Quah, 2004). In addition to that factor, I will stress on the point that not every children with disabilities may benefit from the inclusion setting as it heavily depends on the child’s severity of the disabilities.
On the other hand, exposing children with Down Syndrome to an inclusive environment allow them for opportunities to increase in their attention span ability, memory skills, social skills and communication skills with peers and teachers (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.330). Through mediated learning experiences (MLE), children with Down Syndrome are able to enhance in their developmental progress with the supports from “parent, facilitator or teacher”. (Lim & Quah, 2004). For any children with disabilities to benefit in the mainstream education, there is a need of good partnership of teachers and parents, effective and supportive group of teachers in the centres as well as the mutual support from the community (it can be the other children’s parents from the centre).
Lastly, I will end with a positive note to leave Mrs. Kong with an optimistic head start in taking care of Nicky. The process of providing the assistance and supporting a child with disability maybe challenging. However, it is really worthwhile when the child is able to exhibits characteristics that may not be present during the early years. It is truly significance to the children with Down Syndrome as they are given opportunities to grow up as an individual that can contribute to the community. “Many children with and adults with mental retardation display tenacity and curiosity in learning, get along well with others, and are postive influences on those around them (Reiss & Reiss,2004;J.D.Smith,2000 cited from Heward 2009).
Down Syndrome Association of Singapore. (2009). What you need to know about Down Syndrome. Retrieved on August 14, 2009, from
Heward, W.L. (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Lim, L., & Quah, M.M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
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