(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 like to reassure Mrs Kong that there is no one to be blamed for Nicky’s condition as “Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21” (Down Syndrome Association – Singapore, 2009, para 1). It is also not a disease and thus, Nicky will not suffer nor is victim of her condition. In fact, I will reveal to Mrs Kong that people with Down Syndrome are all “unique individuals and should be acknowledged as a person first and foremost” (Down Syndrome Association – Singapore, 2009, para 2). This is so because they also have feelings and emotions just like anyone else which will result them in experiencing love, anger, fear and happiness (Down Syndrome Association – Singapore, 2009).
Next, I will also reveal to Mrs Kong that with the support of proper Early Intervention, Nicky will be able to learn to live independently and enable her to participate in many things in life. Therefore, Mrs Kong should not be too worried about Nicky’s future as Nicky will be given opportunities to live in a meaningful and varied life. However, there is no doubt that Mrs Kong will have to face lots of challenges along the way as Nicky grow up. Thus, Mrs Kong must have courage to overcome all the hurdles in the future.
As for her future, I will also honestly reveal to Mrs Kong that “employment options for a persons with Down Syndrome may appear limited in a highly competitive job market like Singapore which is moving towards knowledge intensive high-tech industries” but “there are still many types of jobs that they would be able to do competently with appropriate training and support” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 327).
Also, our second Minister for Finance, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, has spoken at the Down Syndrome Association Charity Gala Dinner that the Down Syndrome Association (DAS) has “engages the society to include individuals with Down syndrome into the schools, workplaces and community. Thus, today, we are able to find children with Down syndrome studying alongside their peers in mainstream kindergartens and schools; adults finding work opportunities in the mainstream society; and community facilities shared by all” (Ministry of Finance – Singapore, 2009, para 7). With that, Nicky will surely be given opportunities to experience a life like others and have a meaningful future.
(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)
Firstly, I will reveal to Mrs Kong that any children with disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Attention Deficits Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or even Down Syndrome, have a legal right to education and can be included in a regular classroom. Therefore, Nicky is most welcome to join the centre’s toddler class.
However, I will explain to Mrs Kong that “all children with Down's syndrome have some degree of learning disability and this varies greatly from person to person” (BabyCentre, 2009, para 14). Thus, they need time to reach their developmental stages at their own pace. Also, children with Down Syndrome may have “physical impairments and developmental delay ranging from mild to severe” which include “delayed in motor skills such as sitting, crawling and walking in infancy and delayed in cognitive skills such as speech and language acquisition and short-term memory abilities” (Down Syndrome Association – Singapore, 2009, para 4).
Due to this, I will further explain to Mrs Kong that the centre’s toddler class do offers a curriculum which allows diverse group of children to be enrolled. This means that our curriculum caters to children who are racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse, and those with a range of skills, gifts, strengths, needs, abilities and disabilities. Hence, Nicky will be able to learn in a classroom that maximizes her fullest potential. Besides, I will also reveal to Mrs Kong that Nicky may need extra help, such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and special education. With the collaboration of all parties, I am sure Nicky will be in good hand.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I will agree with Mrs Kong that based on the photograph, there were no facial signs which indicates that Nicky has Down Syndrome. However, Mrs Kong did admit that Nicky has difficulties sitting upright. According to BabyCentre (2009), children with Down's syndrome may “have loose muscles and joints” which result him/her to be “floppy and has difficulty in sitting upright” (para 2). I will reveal to Mrs Kong that those are some characteristics that a child with Down Syndrome would have.
Besides, I will reveal to Mrs Kong that Down Syndrome can affect every part of the body, and “may lead to problems with the muscles, joints, bones and movement, vision and hearing difficulties, a vulnerability to infections, problems with digestion, lung disorders and heart defects” (BabyCentre, 2009, para 11). However, many of the conditions mentioned can be improved with early intervention. Therefore, I will advise Mrs Kong to make an appointment with the doctor soon so that we can be informed of her severity of impairments. I will also advise her that it is important for Nicky to have good healthcare throughout her life so that problems can be spotted and properly managed.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
I will share with Mrs Kong that in Singapore, we do have special schools that provide special education to children with disabilities. They have “successful interventions which prevent, eliminate, and/or overcome the obstacles that might keep an individual with disabilities from learning and from full active participation in school and society” (Heward, 2009, p. 35). For Nicky who has Down Syndrome, she can be enrolled in the MINDS organisation. MINDS organisation has 4 special schools namely Fernvale Gardens School, Lee Kong Chian Gardens School, Towner Gardens School and Woodlands Gardens School. Unfortunately, their special programmes cater to children from the aged of 4 to 18 years old.
With this information, I strongly encourage Mrs Kong to enrol her child, Nicky, to our centre. I will explain to Mrs Kong that the centre is practicing the inclusionary education. I will also briefly explain to her that inclusive education in school is not just about fitting ramps and lifts into the school infrastructure or putting them in a class with normal children to provide an inclusion setting. But, inclusive education requires the staff and students to also adopt an open attitude to welcome and include students with disabilities into their midst. This is a crucial ingredient in ensuring the successful inclusion of students with disabilities into our community. Moreover, curriculum and activities are modified to suit the needs of such children as well as the rest. Thus, with inclusive education, I believe that it can benefit Nicky a lot.
Being a student from Wheelock College, I have understood the importance of inclusive education. Therefore, I will also reveal to Mrs Kong that our Government is gradually moving towards inclusive education and in the future, inclusive education will be seen as part of our lives (Lim & Quah, 2004). Thus, today, we are able to find more children with disabilities studying alongside their peers in mainstream kindergartens and schools which are acknowledge by the Government.
BabyCentre (2009). Down’s Syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from, http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/health/downssyndrome/
Down Syndrome Association – Singapore. (2009). All you need to know about Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from,
Heward, W. L. (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities (1st ed.). Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education.
Ministry of Finance – Singapore. (2009). Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Second Minster for Finance – Down Syndrome Association Charity Gala Dinner. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from, http://app.mof.gov.sg/news_speeches/speechdetails.asp?speechid=306