1(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 Marks)
According to Health Promotion Board (2009), most of the screening tests used to determine the diagnosis of Down syndrome are done through blood test. Thus, there is high chances of Nicky been diagnosed with Down syndrome based on the blood test done by the doctor. Therefore, I would advise Mrs. Kong not to hesitate and to make an appointment to bring Nicky for further assessment. I would explain to her that early intervention would actually benefit Nicky in improving his current situation and helping him to cope with his learning in later life. Lim and Quah (2004) explained that the aim of early intervention services “is to reduce the effects of disabilities or prevent the occurrence of learning and development problems during their early years” (p.65). Besides that people with Down syndrome have higher risks of suffering from other medical condition such as, leukemia, hearing loss, eye disease, etc. However, “many of the conditions mentioned can be improved with early intervention” (Down Syndrome Association Singapore, 2009, ¶6).
Furthermore, I would share with Mrs. Kong about the policy, ‘Singapore 21’ that Singapore government has launched since 1999. Singapore 21 emphasizes that each Singaporeans matters, and everyone can contribute and make a difference to Singapore society (S21 Facilitation Committee, 2003). Besides that, ‘Enabling Masterplan (2007-2011)’ and ‘Many Helping Hands approach’ are also launched to provide education and career support for people with special needs.
Enabling Masterplan (2007-2011) was came up by Singapore Government which aimed to move Singapore towards an inclusive society. It focuses on Singaporean with special needs “who should be supported to reach their full potential and be included as part of Singapore” (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, 2009, ¶1). On the other side, Ministry of Education has also been adopting “Many Helping Hands approach” since 1999 to support children with special needs in both mainstream school and special school (Ministry of Education Singapore, 2004).
Thus, I believe that with increasing government supports, people with special needs including children with Down syndrome, would be able to lead a better prospect of life in Singapore in the future. After sharing with Mrs. Kong about the increasing efforts of Singapore Government to support people with special needs, I hope that she would become optimistic about Nicky’s future.
1(b)(i) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class
If Nicky is to enroll in my centre’s toddler class, I would do my best to help Nicky in achieving his fullest potential in learning. During the degree program, I gained better understanding of children with special needs and learned to plan curriculum to suit their individual needs. I hope that through providing a developmentally appropriate environment with meaningful learning experiences for Nicky, it would maximize his learning potential in class. Besides that, I would also ensure that I am observant and sensitive towards Nicky’s needs. I believe that an understanding and patient teacher plays a vital role in nurturing children with special needs.
Furthermore, it is advisable for Mrs. Kong to build up a strong parent-teacher partnership which would benefit Nicky. Friend and Bursuck (2009) highlighted that partnership with parents can help teacher to better understand the child which in turn will help the child achieve more success. Hence, I would like to seek Mrs. Kong’s cooperation in working with me to help Nicky in achieving his fullest potential in class. For example, it would be great if Mrs. Kong can share with me the strengths of Nicky that she has observed at home and we can together discuss the area that Nicky can improve on. Besides that, we can also work together to support Nicky’s learning in both school and home.
(ii) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs. Kong about Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I found a resource; “my baby booklet” from Down Syndrome Association of Singapore (DSA) website which I think it is very useful for Mrs. Kong to know more about baby with Down syndrome. In the booklet, there are some real life experiences shared by other parents when they came to know that their baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome. I hope that this would help to change Mrs. Kong’s mindset about raising a child with Down syndrome after understanding how other parents have overcome the barriers they faced. Besides that, the booklet has also provided some information on what parents can do to cope with their worries and stress regarding their baby with Down syndrome.
Furthermore, I would recommend her to let Nicky to become a member of DSA because the association provides a wide range supports such as adult services, children services family support services, and it also have a resource and information centre. I believe that all these services provided by DSA would be definitely beneficial for Nicky and his family members in his later part of life.
1(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?
I would explain to Mrs. Kong that “Special Education (SPED) encompasses a range of specialized teaching program in SPED schools which cater to children with autism, intellectual, sensory, physical or multiple disabilities” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.48). For example, special school such as Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) provides special program for children with Down syndrome. Other than that, there is also an Integrated Childcare Programme (ICCP) which is funded by Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) which is “offered in existing Child Care Centres which allows children with disabilities, aged 2-6 years old to learn alongside their regular peers” and it also “aims to provide a natural environment for the child to learn, play, socialize and grow up in. It helps prepare such children for entry into primary school at a later stage” (Centre for Enabled Living, 2009, ¶1). In addition, DSA has also started a research project to include children with Down syndrome in mainstream primary school (Down Syndrome Association Singapore, 2009). I hope that after sharing the above information with Mrs Kong, she would have a better understanding of current education opportunities for children with Down syndrome.
Although full inclusive education is not fully practiced in Singapore now, I believe that the increasing number of allied educators and more teachers who are trained to become knowledgeable about children with special needs, Singapore education would improve gradually and move towards inclusive education. As an early childhood educator, I would advise Mrs. Kong to provide inclusive education for Nicky if his condition is suitable to seek general education. DSA (2009) also supported that “early intervention, lifelong education and training and inclusion with the mainstream is a holistic approach to managing Down syndrome” (¶11).
Centre for Enabled Living. (2009). Young Children - Integrated Child Care Programme. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from http://www.cel.sg/AgeGroupDisabilityPages5.aspx
Down Syndrome Association Singapore. (2009). Children Services. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/18/80/
Down Syndrome Association Singapore, 2009. My baby: answers to your questions about Down syndrome. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from
Down Syndrome Association Singapore. (2009). What you need to know about Down syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/35/111/
Friend, M., Bursuck, W. D. (2009). (5th ed.). Including Student with Special Needs: The Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson
Health Promotion Board. (2009). Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from http://www.hpb.gov.sg/diseases/article.aspx?id=494
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2009). Enabling Masterplan (2007-2011). Retrieved August 13, 2009 from http://www.mcys.gov.sg/enablingmasterplan/index.html
Ministry of Education. (2004). Speech by Radm Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education & Second Minister for Defence at the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony on Saturday 25 January 2003 at 10.45AM at the Roof Terrance, SPD ability Centre. Retrieved August, 13 2009 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2003/sp20030125.htm
S21 Facilitation Committee (2003). Singapore 21. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from http://www.singapore21.org.sg/