(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 assure Mrs Kong that there is definitely a place for Nicky to develop his self-help skills through all the developmental domains. I am aware that Mrs Kong's main concern would be about the early interventions available for which are able to help Nicky to be more independent as he grows older. I will further explain to Mrs Kong what is down syndrome. Although her two other children is normal, she should understand that Nicky is a special child with an extra chromosome. This is supported by Singapore Down Syndrome Association (2009) that no one is to be blame for this as there is nothing that a father or an expecting mother can do before or during pregnancy to avoid the child from having Down syndrome. It just happens to anyone inclusive of all races, social classes and in all countries throughout the world. Secondly,I will also inform Mrs Kong that there are special Schools such as Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) which offers various programmes from the preschool to senior programmes.
(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class; (2 Marks)
I would strongly encourage Mrs Kong to enroll Nicky into the centre's toddler class as it is too early for us to decide that Nicky should be put in a special school. Furthermore, special school such as MINDS preschool programme will only accept children from the age of 4-6 years. Thus, I will inform Mrs Kong that the centre will design curriculum which not only caters to Nicky or the other children but instead a curriculum for diversity in which all children will benefit.
As mentioned in Heward (2006), despite the rise in the factors that plays a part in the collaboration of parents and teachers in special education, three issues were seen to be clear that is firstly parents wants to be involved, secondly, educational effectiveness is develop through active involvement of parent and teachers and lastly, the requirement of collaboration between school and families being the other vital factor. Hence, the teachers will have regular conferences with Mrs Kong to discuss about Nicky's progress both at home and school. As developmental process is observed, further discussion in which have inclusion benefit Nicky or special education would be a great help for his education.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I feel that it is crucial for Nicky to further be diagnose in order for early intervention to take place. According to Heward (2006), early intervention includes a wide variety of child care, family supports, educational and nutritional to further lessen the effects of disabilities or to prevent learning and developmental complications in later life. Hence, early intervention will greatly benefit Nicky as he grows.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Special education is a part of school system that requires certain teacher to pupil ratio. With this, teachers are able to pay closer attention to these special needs children. There are also preventive, remedial and compensatory interventions in special school to ensure that children with disability are taken care appropriately. By carrying out these interventions, it is able to help children with special needs overcome their disabilities. Special schools that cater to the needs of children with disabilities are Grace Orchard School, MINDS, METTA School, Rainbow Centre and more. The aim of these special schools in Singapore is to build up on each child’s potential to his/her fullest potential. The education also includes having rehabilitative and therapy in their curriculum to mould and nurture special needs children to be an all-rounder. This supports the statement quoted by Lim and Quah (2004), "... providing the necessary support so that they can participate in a meaningful way in the ongoing classroom activities (p. 31). Hence, there should be sufficient learning materials and instructions should be practiced in a more efficient way.
Although mainstream schools in Singapore are seen to be more integrated in which children with special needs are expected to adapt to the environment, Singapore is indeed progressing to provide inclusive teaching. Mainstream schools are improving in a way that the environment around the school adapts to the child's need. Assistive devices are made available in most schools to further aide the child with special needs. As cited in Lim and Quah (2004) inclusion is when children with disabilities are put together in a common education classroom. With inclusion, it does not only cater to the normal stream children but also special needs children who are diagnosed with various disabilities. Hence, relating back to Nicky's case, with good social interaction with other children with or without disabilities and teachers, they can work together to further help Nicky in his learning journey.
Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009. What is Down syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website: http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/34/111/
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating Learners with Diverse Abilities.Special Education in Singapore. Asia, Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education.
Heward, W. L., (2006). Exceptional children: An introduction to Special Education (8th ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Merril Prentice Hall
Done by: Yusliza Bte Yusof (Group B)