(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore?
It is important for early childhood professionals need to help parents enter the world of reality and deal with the issues at hand in an open, loving and sensitive way. In addition, parents like Mrs Kong are keen to find out the reality of a child with Down syndrome growing up in Singapore. This means that I should provide reassurance through honest words, sharing both sides of the facts. I will share with Mrs Kong of some challenges that she might face in bringing up a child with special needs. I will explain that Singaporeans are still progressing in accepting people and lack the knowledge to understand people who are different. Therefore, people may pity rather than empathise when they see Nicky.
On the other hand, Mrs Kong will be hopeful to know that Singapore is moving towards inclusion and that there are professional help available to meet her needs. For example, Down syndrome Association of Singapore supports families through specialist services, information and education. There are job prospective that Nicky can look forward to when he enters adulthood as there is an increase awareness of social entrepreneurship; Roger and Osberg (2007) shared that social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better.
(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class;and
Attending special education and regular classroom are strongly encouraged by professionals but I will explain to Mrs Kong that not every child with special needs will benefit from this option. In my opinion, Mrs Kong should seek educational leaders that she is confident to entrust Nicky in their care. Educational leaders, who see beyond the disability, understand and appreciate the capabilities of every special needs child.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome.
Firstly, I would encourage Mrs Kong to take Nicky for further assessment as soon as possible to verify the severity of the disability. Secondly, I will explain to Mrs Kong the importance of assessments and early intervention to help Nicky cope better with his disabilities. The hope is that these services such as speech, physical and occupational therapies will address any delays in development.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?
I will provide Mrs Kong with the following information:
Special Education and Special school:
According to the Ministry Of Education (2009), SPED (Special Education) provides customised educational programmes and training for different disability groups. The programmes are aimed at developing the potential of pupils and helping them to be independent, self-supporting and contributing members of society. Individualised Educational Plans (IEPs) are drawn up for all pupils.
Inclusive education in Singapore:
Ministry Of Education (2009) has introduced the Holistic Health Framework (HHF) in 2007. This framework aims to support schools with a structured framework to adopt a holistic health promotion approach. This framework is guided by 3 key principles. The first principle is total well-being which encompasses the physical, mental and social health of students and not just measures of weight and fitness. The second principle is inclusion which advocates that every student be given opportunities to access the knowledge and develop the skills and attitudes to live healthily. The third principle is quality delivery which involves building the capacity of teachers through professional development and engaging qualified and competent para-educators to teach healthy lifestyle effectively.
Ultimately, teachers and parents need to work together as a team to be the best caregivers. In particular, I will encourage Mrs Kong to play an active role in family-professional partnership because she will have to make the major decisions for Nicky. Frequent collaboration is an important element that helps parents ‘lightens’ their burdens because responsibilities are shared and ensures effective communication. Parents and educational leaders work in partnership as a team to construct goals and evaluate relevant programs that best suit the child (Peterson and Hittie, 2003).
Ministry of Education. (2009). Holistic Health Framework. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/programmes/holistic-health-framework/
Ministry of Education. (2009). Special Education in Singapore. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/special-education/
Peterson, J.M., & Hittie, M.M. (2003). Inclusive teaching: Creating effective schools for all learners. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Roger. L. M., & Osberg, S. Social entrepreneurship: The case of definition. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:aJpKjF60SzEJ:www.skollfoundation.org/media/skoll_docs/2007SP_feature_martinosberg.pdf+define+social+entrepreneurship&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=sg
By: Alphonso Hannah Lua