(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 first introduce to Mrs Kong the definition of Down syndrome to help her understand what are the causes and characteristics of it. According to Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), “Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. A baby born with Down syndrome has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two.” Lim and Quah (2004) also further stated that, “Down syndrome is the results of chromosomal abnormality characterized by physical signs like slanted eyes, flattened features, shortness and a tendency to gain weight.” (p.325). Therefore, from the different characteristics mentioned above, Mrs Kong can observe for the different signs that Nicky exhibit to find out whether Nicky really has Down syndrome. After explaining to her about the causes and characteristics of Down syndrome, I would then inform her that as Nicky grows up, he might encounter physical impairments and developmental delay that ranges from mild to severe, and that she would have to be prepared to spend more time with him to help him in the learning process.
Although Down syndrome might not be very prevalent in Singapore, there are many avenues where they can get help from. In Singapore, there are also agencies like the Down Syndrome Association (DSA) where they can gain deeper understanding on what Down syndrome is, and how parents can help their children with Down syndrome. According to information found on DSA website, evident efforts have been put into working with mainstream primary schools, to include working with children with Down syndrome. Therefore, I would reassure Mrs Kong that Nicky would definitely be able to find resources that would help him in his learning, and following the advancement of science and technology, there would definitely be aid developed to improve Nicky's condition and to help him while he is growing up.
(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)
As Nicky is only 1 year old, I would tell Mrs Kong that she can try enrolling him into the centre’s toddler class for him to be exposed to some level of education, before he is being further diagnosed about whether the current education suits his learning styles and needs. In the meantime, we can observe Nicky’s development in class, and implement different strategies to help him according to his strengths and needs. I would also inform Mrs Kong that although Nicky might take a longer time to learn as compared to his peers, he would definitely be able to learn the same things when extra aid is provided.
However, I would also recommend her to try visiting Rainbow Centre, where she can check out and consult about the different services being provided. As Rainbow Centre provides various services that would cater to the learning impairment of the child with special needs, which includes helping children with Down syndrome. I would also advise her that if she considers sending Nicky to Rainbow Centre when he gets older to 2 years old, he would be able to receive more help as the people working with him would be professionals and he would be able to get more support and learn in a more effective way.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I would reassure Mrs Kong that she can bring Nicky for further diagnosis when he grows older because he is currently only 1 year old. Other than that, I would advise her to remain positive as Down syndrome ranges from mild to severe; therefore, she can wait until further detailed reports are out, to determine on what type of help Nicky would need.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
With regards to the different special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore, I would reveal to Mrs Kong that there are quite a lot of special schools in Singapore that provides special education especially for children with special needs. I would then explain to her that special education means that curriculum within the special school is being developed according to the child’s needs, and it would help individual child to grow and learn life skills that are beneficial when they move on to live in the society.
After introducing what special education is to Mrs Kong, I would then further explain to her that inclusive education in Singapore means that children with special needs are being included in mainstream education, where the children would get the chance to be exposed to education in a general classroom. I would also state that in inclusive education, both the environment and curriculum are being adjusted to suit and help the child with special needs; therefore, they are also given the opportunity to learn and interact with children from the mainstream.
Down Syndrome Association Singapore - Not Disabled Differently Able - What is Down syndrome. (n.d.).Retrieved August 12, 2009, from Down Syndrome Association Singapore: http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/view/34/111/
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).