(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore?
“Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and phyically. It affects about 1 in every 800 babies” ( KidsHealth, 2009). Health Promotion Board (2007) further explained that Down syndrome is “caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21”.Although DS is caused by genetic factors, 21st chromosome, environmental factors and quality education play a relatively critical role in their development. I would reassure Mrs Kong that children with Down syndrome can still contribute to the society no matter the severity of their condition and they are not “clumsy” or “incapable” as most members of the public think.
Personally, I am in favour of including children with DS in a mainstream setting. By giving them a chance to be in a regular classroom, it helps them to better integrate into the society in future since they are given the opportunity to interact with typically developing children. In an inclusion classroom, it also allows typically developing children to learn to appreciate all people, accept and live with diversity. With some adaptations, it is possible to incorporate children with DS, especially in an early childhood setting, as many of the resources and activities adapted for the children with special needs can be used by and benefit the development and teaching of the typically developing children in the class as well.
In Singapore, the sector of special education has been progressing gradually. We are moving towards a nation with higher quality of services and living standards for people with DS and other forms of disabilities. The Singapore government has definitely been putting in effort to improve the situation through the launching and implementation of policies that aims to facilitate the integration of children with disabilities into mainstream settings.
(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class; and
Enrolling Nicky in the centre’s toddler class would be beneficial for the child who will be able to interact and learn together with typically developing children. However, provided that the centre is able to support the learning of children with disability, it would not be advisable for Mrs Kong to enroll Nicky. In the instance that the school is ready for inclusion and Mrs Kong enrolls Nicky in the toddler class, I would advise Mrs Kong on being prepared to spend more time on communicating with me as the teacher as well as the school. With effective communication between home and school, it will benefit Nicky in his development and growth.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome.
Through Mrs Kong’s verbal description and picture of Nicky, it is not obvious that the child has the DS. I would strongly encourage Mrs Kong to arrange for an appointment with the doctor for further assessment of Nicky’s condition as soon as possible. Only with an accurate diagnosis of the child’s condition, would it allow for any form of early intervention. Upon a diagnosis, Mrs Kong would be able to pick a suitable school for Nicky as well as discuss the kind of intervention strategies and plans that is appropriate for Nicky.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?
I would explain about the current state of inclusion for children with Down syndrome in Singapore, then further touch on a few supporting policies and lastly how certain challenges are overcome in an inclusive setting.
Current State & Supporting Policies
Currently, there is a limited number of local preschools offering mainstream education for children with DS. Two examples of such preschool are St Gerard’s School and Kits4kids. Over the years, the local education system has improved in terms of their willingness to accept children with special needs. However, the traditionally results-oriented nature of the education system tends to breed a system where having children with special needs in the class is seen as not desirable because the special needs child may ‘hold back the other students in the class.’ It is a pity that many still fail to see the value of allowing students to learn from one another through the interaction with people who are slightly different. Inclusion actually benefits all children as we learn to be patient, to accept and embrace differences.
Since year 2007, the Down Syndrome Association (DSA) of Singapore has been conducting a research project on inclusion for children with DS; placing them in mainstream primary schools and building an integration facilitation support program whereby it provides school based support for these children with education support services and family support services (Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), 2009).
In an additional effort to emphasize necessary education for children with DS, DSA also “advocates compulsory education” for children with Down syndrome until the age of 16 and support their learning through courses which prepare children with the necessary knowledge and social skills (National Council of Social Service, July/August 2007, p. 11). Through the mention of this policy, I hope to relieve any of Mrs Kong’s concern about Nicky not being able to receive proper education.
A child with DS may have delayed fine and gross motor skills, auditory and visual problems, speech and language difficulties, poor short term auditory memory, short concentration span, problems with generalizing information and transferring skills from one situation to another. Sometimes, they also have challenges with problem solving and cognitive thinking.
With slight adaptations, children with DS will be able to participate in all activities. One such accommodation would be giving the child more time to respond, allowing responses through non verbal means example, using the picture exchange system or simply through pointing; in the instance that the child faces speech and language challenges.
Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) (2009). Annual report 2007/2008. Retrieved August
12, 2009, from http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/images/dsa_12_ar.pdf
Health Promotion Board. (2007). Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from
KidsHealth. (2009). Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from,
National Council of Social Service (July/August 2007). Rapport. Retrieved August 13, 2009,
Done By: Geraldine Huang, Group B