(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 Marks)
Children with Down syndrome do have the capacity to learn despite their slow learning rate and inadequate memory and processing skills (Lim & Quah, 2004). With proper and early intervention, they do grow up to be functional adults in the society. Currently, most children with intellectual abilities (mild, moderate, severe and profound), including down syndrome in Singapore are enrolled in special education schools (Lim & Quah, 2004). It is in hope that with Singapore’s rapid progress in inclusion, children with Down Syndrome may be seen more commonly in mainstream schools soon.
In future, Nicky may seek employment at Employment Development Centres (EDCs) or Training and Development Centres. They provide sheltered employment for adults with intellectual disabilities. Such centres help prepare, equip and look for open employment opportunities for adults with ID, aiming for the integration of adults with ID in the society.
(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)
It is possible to enrol Nicky into the centre’s toddler class. Part of the curriculum focuses on self- help skills and learning such skills will benefit Nicky in future. Furthermore, MINDS which offer preschool programmes for the intellectually disabled are available only to children ages 4 and up and Nicky would have to wait for a few more years to be eligible for registering. Enrolling Nicky in the centre’s toddler class would provide Nicky with the opportunity to interact with children in a mainstream school and this is advantageous to both Nicky and the rest of the children in the class. There will be adaptations made to the physical environment (Nicky has trouble sitting upright), the curriculum and the way I, as the teacher, execute the lessons in order to ensure that Nicky is provided with the maximum opportunity to learn. I would let Mrs Kong know that it is crucial for she and I to work very closely as it would benefit Nicky and his learning greatly.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
As Nicky’s diagnosis of having Down Syndrome was based on a blood test, it would most likely be accurate. I would also stress the importance of having Mrs Kong take Nicky for further assessments when he turns 1 to determine the severity of his disability. In addition, I would let Mrs Kong know the importance of early intervention and how early intervention would benefit Nicky. Early intervention “maximizes a child’s learning during their most receptive period for learning” (the preschool years), it “lays a foundation for later learning of more complex skills” and “reduce the effects of the disability” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.65).
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Lim & Quah (2004) commented that Singapore has improved tremendously in its special education since its independence in 1965. Special education can be defined as purposeful intervention and 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” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.33). There are quite a number of special schools here in Singapore, including The Cannosian School, AWWA Special School and MINDS. MINDS special schools offer programmes specially catered to children with intellectual disabilities (e.g. Down Syndrome). According to Lim and Quah (2004), under the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) are Lee Kong Chian Gardens and Yio Chu Kang Gardens.
Inclusive education is about learning and working with people of similar and diverse backgrounds in a mainstream environment. It includes improving the education of students with disabilities “within broader educational reforms to improve education for all students” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.7). Singapore is working towards successful inclusion and the number of students with special needs in mainstream schools is increasing (Lim & Quah, 2004). Many parents believe that their children (despite their disabilities) can succeed in mainstream schools if adequate support is given(Lim & Quah, 2004).
Lim, L., & Quah, M.M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities.
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Done by: Bridget Kang Xiang Ling, Group B