(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 Marks)
Firstly, I would share my background profile with her so as to let her understand where my points are coming from. I believe she would have prior information on Down Syndrome as the doctor would already have explained this to her. I would like to share a few important points with Mrs Kong which I felt would reassure her worries for Nicky.
According to Down Syndrome Association Singapore (2009), “Children with Down Syndrome may have physical impairments and developmental delay ranging from mild to severe.” as well as the possibility to develop additional medical conditions. Firstly, I would like Mrs Kong to accept and acknowledge Nicky as a person, with or without his disability. I would make her understand that Nicky would be faced with a series of challenges if he were really confirmed to have Down Syndrome. According to Down Syndrome Association, Singapore (2009), “Early intervention, lifelong education and training and inclusion with the mainstream is a holistic approach to managing Down syndrome.” Therefore, I would reassure Mrs Kong that Nicky’s condition can be improved with early intervention.
Many childcare centres in Singapore are working towards inclusion and would be glad to accept and support children like Nicky to be included in the community. I would also remind her that she needs to be ready to be working together closely with the therapists and teachers in order to plan the best for Nicky’s future. I would extend this message to let her know that my childcare centre promotes inclusion and she can enroll Nicky under my care.
(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class; and (2 Marks)
I would advice her to enroll Nicky to the centre’s toddler class as part of early intervention. I would observe and record Nicky’s behavior and progress and would be willing to provide these information to the doctor when need be in helping to determine Nicky’s diagnosis.
As Nicky is still a toddler, the classes would be play-based and focuses on getting Nicky to have self-concept and gradually building up and training him on self-help skills “Using visual methods, such as signing, pictures and reading to teach talking in the early years can reduce much of the language and cognitive delay associate with Down syndrome.” (Down Syndrome Association, Singapore 2009). I would also incorporate appropriate social and interpersonal skills such as maintaining eye contact and by introducing him to one or two other toddlers and help him maintain this friendship as a start. I would stress to Mrs Kong that I would need to be working closely with her and it would be reciprocal where we exchange notes and feedbacks on Nicky and work together to plan for Nicky’s development.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I would advice Mrs Kong to not delay her appointment with the doctor and to send Nicky for further assessment. Confirming his disability would help both parents to accept reality and work towards helping Nicky with early intervention instead of wallowing on his condition. Regarding her confusion on Nicky’s facial features which do not show any signs of Down Syndrome, I would advice her that “while children with Down syndrome may share certain physical characteristics, these will vary from child to child. Most importantly, each child will inherit its own family looks and characteristics.” (Down Syndrome Association Singapore, 2009).
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
I would share the definition of the above terms to Mrs Kong. Special education is an “individually planned, specialized, intensive, goal-directed instruction” (Heward, 2009, p. 47). According to UNESCO (2009), “Inclusive education is based on the right of all learners to a quality education that meets basic learning needs and enriches lives.” In Singapore, the education of children with disabilities is provided in special education (SPED) schools which are run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs).
One such centre which I would recommend to Mrs Kong is the Rainbow Centre. The Rainbow Centre provides Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Young Children& Early STEP (E-STEP) which “aims to give infants and young children a good head start in helping them in their development.” (Rainbow Centre, 2009). I would recommend Mrs Kong to enroll Nicky in this programme on top of his daily routine in my childcare centre. She can bring Nicky to the Rainbow Centre after his half-day session in the childcare as their sessions are run 2-4 hours per day. This would enable Nicky to receive both inclusion and additional special education at the same time. I would explain to Mrs Kong that inclusion would help Nicky to be able to feel that he is still part of the community and is able to function like other people even though he has a special disability.
I would also recommend Mrs Kong to join support group from the Down Syndrome Association (DSA). The DSA runs Infant Support Groups for members who have infants with Down syndrome aged 3 years and below. She would be able to receive mutual support and opportunities to exchange experiences, discuss common issues and concerns in caring for a baby with Down syndrome with other members.
*Commented on Katherine Koh’s post.
Down Syndrome Association Singapore. (2009). All you need to know about down syndrome. Retrieved 13 August 2009 from Down Syndrome Association, Singapore, website: http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/35/111/
Heward, W.L. (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Rainbow Centre. (2009). EIPIC - Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Young Children & Early STEP (E-STEP). Retrieved 13 August 2009 from Rainbow Centre website: http://www.rainbowcentre.org.sg/svc_eipic.html
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2009). Inclusive Education. Retrieved 13 August 2009 from UNESCO website: http://www.unesco.org/en/inclusive-education/