(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 about organizations such as MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore) that provide services such as education and employment development training for indivduals who are intellectually disabled. MINDS have Employment Development Centres that aim to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities by "promoting social and econemic integration" of these individuals into the general public (MINDS, 2005). This means that a child with down syndrome can learn independence and with training, be employed. A child with down syndrome can become an adult who is a meaningful contributor to the society.
(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)
I understand that MINDS provides education for children between ages 4 and 18, which will not include Nicky as he is rather young. I would assure Mrs Kong that on the school's part, we will design the curriculum for diversity, so that the needs of all children will be met. Furthermore, knowing that inclusion and special education have their own benefits, I can partner with Mrs Kong to see if Nicky is able to adjust to being included in the childcare centre. After a few months, I would meet with Mrs Kong to evaluate Nicky's satisfaction in the centre. If inclusion benefits him, I would continue to have Nicky in the classroom. However, if Nicky finds the going to the Childcare Centre fustrating, I would advise Mrs Kong to consider special education where more aid from special needs officers is given.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
Nicky's diagnosis of down syndrome is based on results from a blood test and could be rather accurate, since the cause of down syndrom is biomedical. I would advise her to seek her pediatrician's advise on further behavourial testing to assess Nicky's adaptive behaviour skills. Adaptive behaviour assessment, such as Scales of Independent Behaviour - Revised , determine the support that Nicky would need to be successful in home and school environments (Heward, 2006).
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Special education in Singapore is receiving education from a separate school that caters to and supports the special need of the child. They are largely formed by NGOs (Non Government Organization), such as MINDS, AWWA Special School and Rainbow Center.
Inclusive education on the other hand means including the child with special needs into mainstream education, while simlutaneously planning for and meeting the diverse needs.
The Singapore education system currently practices more of integration, whereby a child with a special need is included in the classroom but amendments to the curriculum are not made to accommodate the child's learning. The good news is Singapore is taking strides to move toward an inclusive society. This can be seen in its opening of Pathlight, a school catered to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In addition, Singapore is involved in the "UN Convention on the Rights of a Child", where the best interest of every child is considered, including those with special needs (MCYS, 2009). This makes Singapore committed to inclusive education.
Heward, W. L. (2006). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education. (8th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall.
MCYS. (2009). UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ministry of community, youth and sports. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from http://app.mcys.gov.sg/WEB/indv_uncrc.asp
MINDS. (2005). About MINDS employment development centers. Movement for the intellectually disabled of Singapore. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from http://www.minds.org.sg/edcs/index.php
Contributed by Constance Wong of Group A