a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 marks)
I would let Mrs Kong know that children with Down Syndrome is able to function in Singapore society because there are schools that helps children with Down Syndrome, and mainstream childcare centres are striving for inclusion of children with special needs. Teachers are now trained to handle children with special needs so that the needs of these children are taken care of and being attended to.
Also, Singapore has set up organizations such as RAINBOW Centre which is dedicated to provide and improve educational programmes for children with learning disabilities due to disabilities such as Down Syndrome (Lim & Quah, 2004). So for children with Down Syndrome, their future is secured because their learning and well-beings are being taken into considerations, and they are being provided opportunities to learn and grow just like any other typical children. According to the Gifted Learning Project (2009), “All children with Down Syndrome can be educated.”
b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class; (2 marks)
Regarding Nicky’s enrolment into the centre’s toddler class I would advice Mrs Kong enroll Nicky into the centre’s programme if we have sufficient teachers that are trained to handle inclusion, as children in Nicky’s age, as the most important thing is not the academic aspect of their lives but the social-emotional aspect of it. It is a good idea for Nicky to be in a mainstream class as it would provide a chance for her to be around children whom she can interact with. Gifted Learning Project (2009) states that, children with Down Syndrome need to develop a sense of self confidence and self-esteem just like everyone else, and this can be in an environment, such as a mainstream school, to support the child in this area.
Children with Down Syndrome basically do not have social interaction problems; it is only on the cognitive that teachers need to look out for. Children with Down Syndrome can function like typical children, only their developments through the stages are being slowed down. However, I would also suggest to Mrs Kong that she updates the centre again regarding the severity of Nicky’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome after consulting with the doctor, so we would know what to do and how to arrange the manpower to include Nicky into our centre’s toddler’s programme.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 marks)
As Mrs Kong had yet to make an appointment for another check-up for Nicky, I would advise her to do so, as it would provide a more detailed diagnosis of Nicky’s severity of Down Syndrome. It would be beneficial for Mrs Kong and her husband to know more about the disability and how they can help Nicky to cope with the disability. Going for the assessment will not only prepare Nicky but also Nicky’s parents and siblings.
Instead of just basing on the facial features of children, as some children, like Nicky, may not have distinct physical attribute of a child with Down Syndrome, blood test is a much more concrete diagnosis of Down Syndrome because the chromosome analysis is over 99.9 percent accurate (Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, 2009). Down Syndrome is more of learning disability, which cannot be told based on just a glance. However, from Nicky’s difficulty in sitting upright should tell Mrs Kong regarding the development of Nicky as children at the age of 6 months should be able to sit without support (Early Childhood Education, 2009).
The physical attribute of children with Down Syndrome is not only limited to the facial features but other parts of the features such as their limbs like short stubby fingers and short limbs (Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, 2009). And the difference as compared to a typical child may not be so distinct that it may not raise the alarm bell that the child is a suspected Down Syndrome case.
c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 marks)
I would first explain to Mrs Kong the meaning of special education, which is purposeful interventions which prevents, eliminate and overcome obstacles (Heward, 2000; as cited in Lim & Quah, 2004). I will also let her know that there are instructions that are specially designed to meet the individual needs of the child, in this case her daughter Nicky.
Next I will name a few special schools which are available in Singapore for children with disabilities, need not only be for children with Down Syndrome. But I will stress on Rainbow Centre which is for children with different disabilities including Down Syndrome. Also, I will let Mrs Kong know about TEACH ME programme which is set up by AWWA (Asian Women’s Welfare Association) that aims to integrate children with mild disabilities, and who also provide therapy for children who are mainstreamed (Lim & Quah, 2004), like Nicky, whom Mrs Kong is thinking about putting her into a mainstream school.
Finally I will let Mrs Kong know that inclusion in Singapore is not impossible as inclusion is a professional belief that teachers hold that students with disabilities should be intergrated into general education classrooms (Elliot & McKenney, 1998; Friend & Bursuck, 1999; as cited in Lim & Quah, 2004). This means that with the right midset, inclusion is possible, and that teachers need to make certain adjustments to the curriculum to “meet the needs of diverse learners” (Lim & Quah, 2004) and the physical setting in order to make inclusion possible. It is not a concept that is beyond our reach. So I would advice Mrs Kong to stay positive regarding Nicky’s diagnosis of having Down Syndrome as support will always be available for them and be around them.
Early Childhood Education, 2009. Developmental Stages of Babies and Toddlers. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Early Childhood Education Website:
Lim, L. & Quah, M.M., 2004. Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, 2009. Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21). Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford Website:
The Gifted Learning Project, 2009. Information on Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from The Gifted Learning Project Website:
Done by Foo Fang Wei Janice