(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 will reveal to Mrs. Kong about the complete system helps children with Down syndrome in learning which involves early intervention, lifelong education, and training and inclusion program (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). On top of the efforts from professional sectors, strong family and community support is especially essential. These will help Nicky to be more independent and contribute to the society.
Secondly, I will let Mrs. Kong know about the current progression of education for special needs in Singapore which is quite optimistic. For example, there is Integrated Childcare Centre Programme. It allows children with special needs to attend preschools with other children which mean that Nicky can be enrolled into the mainstream school. (Ibrahim, Y., 2009).
Singapore Down Syndrome Association (2009) states that they have started to conduct a research project to study inclusion in mainstream primary schools for children with Down syndrome in 2007. This has shown that efforts are made for inclusion to happen in primary institutions as with the appropriate accommodations and supports, children with Down syndrome can still be included in the mainstream school. This research will serve as a feasible model of inclusion for Singapore context which means that Nicky will be able to receive appropriate education and care in times to come.
Lastly, Singapore Down syndrome Association also provides Adult Enhancement Program (AEP) which is a 5-day program and targets graduates from special schools with intellectual disabilities at 18 years old. It enhances graduates’ skills and focuses on work activities, activities of daily living and leisure activities. This actually safeguards Nicky’s future as it helps her to be more productive and independent in the later life of career.
(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)
Singapore Down Syndrome Association also provides Integration Facilitation Support Programme (IFSP). IFSP is an ongoing effort in providing children with Down syndrome supports in mainstream preschool and primary schools. Teachers who underwent training and workshops will be better able to manage children with Down syndrome achieve academic growth which certainly will benefit Nicky in coping with her studies. Workshops and talks to schools are conducted to guide teachers and students in understanding and working with children with Down syndrome (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). This will provide Nicky with the friendly environment where she will feel comfortable in.
Furthermore, in Singapore, there are currently 18 Integrated Childcare Centre Programme. Mrs. Kong can seek assistance from the Centre for Enabled Living (CEL) for more information on enrolment procedures (Centre for Enabled Living). This set as a platform for enrolment for Nicky into the centre’s toddler class which I strongly encourage Mrs. Kong to do so.
In IFSP, Nicky’s social interaction skills can be supported as social skills training will be provided. Singapore Down Syndrome Association plans to provide more support for children with Down syndrome by giving tuition/remedial programmes during school holidays or after school hours. This will help Nicky in coping and managing with her studies in mainstream schools as well.
Just an additional note, Nicky has a domestic helper who takes care of her besides the mother. They can consider taking Caregivers Training Grant (CTG) by National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Caregivers can apply for CTG to receive training, attend courses, seminars or workshops with relation to caring for individuals with disabilities. A subsidy of up to $200 per year is given for pre-approached training courses (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009).
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
Despite the fact that many people with Down syndrome shares certain physical characteristics, there are still many who do not have these features (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). This is apparently is seen in Nicky’s case. Even though the physical characteristics help doctors in identifying such special needs, only a chromosome analysis can confirm whether one has Down syndrome.
Besides the intellectual expectations, knowledge about medical conditions with Down syndrome is important for Mrs. Kong as well. Such conditions are congenital heart disease, hypothyroidism, sensory defects, chest and sinus infections and atlanto axial instability. Medical examinations should be conducted to ensure early detection of complications and seek for early treatment to prevent worsening of conditions (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). Therefore, Mrs. Kong should make appointment for further assessment soon.
Mrs. Kong can seek support from Singapore Down Syndrome Association’s Family Support Services (FSS). FSS ensures continuous development by providing and maintaining support for families from four categories: New parents, young parents, mature parents and siblings of individuals with Down syndrome (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). This allows parents to enhance their knowledge and capability where a conducive environment is established for sharing and support where Mrs. Kong will gain a lot from the discussions.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Heward (2000) states special education is “first of all, purposefull intervention. Successful interventions prevent, eliminate, and/or overcome the obstacles that might keep an individual with disabilities from learning and from full and active participation in school and society” (p.31; as cited in Lim and Quah, 2004). There are 20 special education schools which caters to children with more significant disabilities with specially trained para-medical personnel and teachers (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, 2009). These professionals support children in their academic and development needs that suit their pace and style of learning. Hence, special education schools will effectively guide Nicky in learning and acquiring new skills as the learning goal for individual child is based on their pace of learning, differences and needs.
In Singapore, integrated schools are more common than schools which practices inclusion. Integration is where “students must adapt to the school with no necessity for the school to adapt to the students’ needs and abilities” (Lim and Quah, 2004, p.91). In inclusive education, schools and teachers believe that “students with disabilities should be integrated into general education classrooms whether or not they can meet traditional curricular standards and should be full members of those classrooms” (Elliot & McKenney, 1998; Friend & Bursuck, 1999; as cited in Lim and Quah, 2004, p.91). This means that the schools and teachers will make adjustments to the environment and curriculum so that the student with special needs feels comfortable and able to perform in the setting with other children. Despite the commonality of integrated schools than inclusive schools, many professionals have recognized the importance of inclusion and the nation has been making progression as well. Nicky will also benefits from it as she will be able to interact and build bonds with other children.
As mentioned before, Singapore Down Syndrome Association (2009) has started conducting a research project to study inclusion in mainstream primary schools for children with Down syndrome in 2007. This further shows the optimistic development towards inclusive education in local context. This research will serve as a feasible model of inclusion for Singapore’s educational institutions. Therefore I will encourage Mrs. Kong to stay positive about Nicky’s future in Singapore.
Centre for Enabled Living. Young children- integrated child care programme. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Centre for Enabled Living Website: http://www.cel.sg/AgeGroupDisabilityPages5.aspx
Ibrahim, Y., 2009. 8th world Down syndrome congress gala dinner and awards night. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports Website:
Lim, L. & Quah, M.M., 2004. Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).
National Council of Social Service, 2009. Caregivers training grant (CTG) by NCSS. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website: http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/54/51/
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. Adult services. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. Children Services. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. Family support services. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. My baby: answers to your questions about Down syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. What you need to know about Down syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Done by Lam Sim Theen (Group A)