Professional view about children with Down syndrome
Firstly, I have to clarify with Mrs. Kong that Down syndrome is the result of having one extra chromosome which may affect the person physical appearances and delay in developmental skills. The cause of Down syndrome is unknown and there is no way to avoid chromosomal error (Kidshealth, 2009).
It is important for Mrs. Kong to understand that children with Down syndrome have their own unique developmental milestones and face different difficulties. According to Kidshealth (2009), “The physical features and medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary widely from child to child. While some children with DS [Down Syndrome] need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives” (para 2). Hence, different children experience developmental delays and impairment in their physical features associated with Down syndrome that range from mild to severe (Down Syndrome Association). With this knowledge, it raises Mrs. Kong’s confidence in managing Nicky as she understands more about Down syndrome and an awareness about some of the developmental delays. As an educator, we need to recognize that all children regardless of their disabilities have their own strengths and talents. It is vital that we make use of their talent to overcome any learning difficulties that they might face.
Their future in Singapore
The Singapore government has launched many policies and campaigns to raise public awareness about providing equal opportunities to all citizens. An example of a policy is ‘Singapore 21’, which states that every Singaporean matters. According to Lim and Quah (2004), it point out that all citizens are important and each contribute to the society differently. Hence, with the continuous government support to educate and bring awareness to people about disabilities, I believed that Nicky will receive sound education and be successful in contributing to the society.
Yes, I would encourage Nicky to be enrolled into the centre’s toddler class. This is because personally, I strongly believed that all children should receive equal opportunities to learn and play. Although it might be challenging to have Nicky in the class (according to Mrs. Kong, Nicky is slow in learning and face difficulties in sitting upright), it is the teacher’s role to nurture their talents and help them cope with their difficulties. According to Lim and Quah (2004), teachers have great impact on the children learning experiences and may influence them as well as parents about accepting diversity.
I would advise Mrs. Kong to make further enquires with the doctor about the blood test; reasons for Nicky’s diagnosis – if there is presence of an extra chromosome. I think it will be good to arrange an appointment for further assessment as to make sure that diagnosis is accurate and early intervention can be carried out. I will explain to Mrs. Kong that early intervention is a series of comprehensive action plans that help the child and the family to cope with difficulties and problems (Heward, 2009). Early intervention is important because it maximize the child ability to learn effectively during their early years, to prevent complication of the disabilities, and to provide family support and reduce stress (Lim and Quah, 2004).
Special education and special schools
I will share with Mrs. Kong that special education is to allow children with disabilities to achieve to their fullest potential by providing relevant resources and individualized lesson plans. These help children to attain skills for participating in school and society (Lim and Quah, 2004). There are a number of special schools in Singapore, such as MINDS and SARC which caters to learners with different disabilities. These schools have qualified teachers that specialized in teaching people with special needs. In addition, the special schools will work very closely with each child as well as their parent to ensure that the child is making progress. Mrs. Kong can get more information about what is Down syndrome and educating learners with Down syndrome from Down Syndrome Association.
Inclusive education in Singapore
In Singapore, the government had been working towards an inclusive society with the implementation of policies such as Integrated Child Care Program (ICCP) that allow children with disabilities to learn and play in normal childcare setting (Centre for Enabled Living, n.d.), as well as the Allied Educators at mainstream levels to aid in the learning development of children with disabilities (MOE, 2009). Currently, there are already 18 ICCP centres and more then hundred primary schools having Allied Educators. It is likely that the number of schools participating will increase over the years. With the implementation of policies, Nicky will be able to receive quality education just like any typical child from preschool all the way to secondary level.
Down Syndrome Association (Singapore). (2009). All you need to know about Down syndrome. Retrieved 13th Aug, 2009, from http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/35/113/
KidsHealth. (2009). Down Syndrome. Retrieved July 6, 2009, from, http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/genetic/down_syndrome.html
Heward, W. L. (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education (9th ed.).
Upper Saddle, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Lim, L. & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw
Centre for Enabled Living (n.d.). Young children – Integrated child care programme. Retreived
on 13th Aug 2009, from http://www.cel.sg/AgeGroupDisabilityPages5.aspx