(a) The conditions of a child with Down syndrome vary and I feel the severity of the conditions can be determined at a later stage. According to Peterson and Hittie (2003), one of the common factors for mental retardation is Down syndrome, and the level of intelligence ranges from mild to severity. I understand the concerns a parent have for their child with any disability, especially the worries they have for their child’s present and future education. A child with Down syndrome will need more assistance and time to master a skill and these can often be achieved through “mediated” learning (Lim and Quah (2004)). In Singapore, there are associations which cater to the needs of children and adults with Down syndrome. For instance, the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore). Children with Down syndrome may encounter some challenges as they progress, however, with positive and supportive attitudes from parents as well as the environment (teachers, community etc), the children can be independent learners and feel good about themselves.
(bi) I feel Nicky should not be deprived of the opportunity to interact and learn from and with the other children. As adults, it is natural for us to be concern for Nicky’s welfare; however, we should not allow the “concerns” to overwhelm and deprive him of learning opportunities with the other children. Especially at a tender age, Nicky should be exposed to and celebrate the differences of people. Nicky may encounter some challenges along the way; however, Nicky is capable of learning life skills (Peterson and Hittie (2003)) as he observes and have physical interactions with the other children. In addition, Nicky’s siblings are in the school, this provides him with a sense of familiarity when he is in school.
(ii) I feel we should not be apprehensive to seek help from the specialist, for instance, the diagnosis or their advice etc. With their profound understanding on the disability, they are able to provide the necessary information to help the child, with the piece of information from the specialists; teachers will know which direction to head towards. Just like other children, Nicky have his own strengths and interest area. By focusing on his strengths and area of interest, it makes him feel valued. This will in turn encourage Nicky to be a more participative learner.
(c) Special education and special schools- In Singapore, there are currently 20 special education schools which provide services to children with various special needs. These schools are run by Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs). The schools share a common goal which is to bring out the optimum learning potential in a child as he or she develops to become independent learners as they are included as part of the community. The child with special needs will be assisted by teachers as well as external professionals such as the therapists, psychologists etc. These groups will aid in designing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for the child. Schools which provide early intervention for children with Down syndrome are Rainbow Centre and Awwa Educational Services. According to Children services (2009), there is also the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) which provides services to pre-school children up to their teenage years (16 years old).
Inclusive educations in Singapore- There are mainstream schools in Singapore which practices inclusion. According to 8th World Down Syndrome Congress Gala Dinner and Awards Night (2009), The Integrated Childcare Centre Programme provided opportunities for preschool children with special needs to be part of the mainstream childcare centres. In additions, there are also increasing awareness placed on Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children. This is to aid the parents in helping their child to develop better and to reduce the possibility of secondary disabilities.
Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) (2009). Children services. [Online]
Lim, L., & Quah, M.M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities.
Singapore: The mc graw hill education
Minister for Community Development and Sports (2009). Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim-
8th World Down Syndrome Congress Gala Dinner and Awards Night.[Online] http://app.mcys.gov.sg/web/corp_speech_story.aspszMod=corp&szSubMod=speech&qid=642
Ministry of education Singapore (2009). Special education in Singapore. [Online]
Peterson, J.M., & Hittie, M.M. (2003). Inclusive teaching: Creating effective schools for all learners. United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.