a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 Marks)
First and foremost, I would arrange for a meeting session between the parent and me, to let Mrs. Kong share with me her concerns. As a teacher, I need to be attentive to the needs of the parents so that I can best meet the needs of the child.
I would inform her that in Singapore, there is an organization known as Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), also known as DSA. To help the people with Down syndrome prepare for the future, workplace integration training to adults with Down syndrome is done. In addition, support services to the families to help them understand the important role they play in encouraging their unique family members. According to Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office (2009, ¶ 6) “the DSA also engages the society to include individuals with Down syndrome into the schools, workplaces and community.”
In regards to her worries about Nicky’s future, I would inform her that teachers in the mainstream school are trained and qualified to provide for Nicky. The Integration Facilitation Support Programme (IFSP) initiated by the DSA provides consultancy services which imparts relevant skills sets to teachers interacting with students with Down syndrome. This in turn, will enable teacher to build conducive environments for children with special learning needs and teach for diversity (Lim, 2009). As for Nicky’s working life, the Enabling Masterplan (2007-2011) is an effort shared by the public-private-people sector to aid Singapore in it’s progression towards inclusion (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, 2007). This movement has allowed children with Down syndrome to study alongside their peers in mainstream schools; adults finding work opportunities in the mainstream society; and community facilities shared by all.
(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 would recommend that the child be included in a mainstream setting from young as I believe that the goal for every child is to help them grow up and contribute to the society in they own way. By including Nicky, she can be better equipped to working with others; teamwork is a key concept in Singapore. While Nicky is enrolled in the centre, Individualised Educational Plans will be done up to cater to her learning needs. With the parent’s approval, a range of professionals (psychologist, medical specialist) will be consulted and the teacher will work cooperatively with them to ensure that Nicky’s needs are met.
Should Mrs. Kong raise concerns about her child’s primary education, I would then, present to Mrs. Kong the 2 available options of either enrolling her child into a mainstream school, or enrolling her child in a special school (SPED).
In SPED schools, customised educational programmes and training for different disability groups are made available. Individualised Educational Plans (IEPs) are drawn up for all pupils and these plans are made and altered according to the child’s needs at the various stages of development, which will greatly benefit Nicky. “Besides receiving classroom instructions conducted by their teachers, pupils also receive help and training from paramedical professionals such as psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers” (Ministry of Education (MOE), 2009, ¶ 3)
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
Inform her that thought I am a senior teacher; I am not qualified to diagnose the child as the diagnosis has to be done by a psychologist. I can, however, observe and gather information on Nicky’s development and present to Mrs. Kong what Nicky is exhibiting in the centre should she choose to be enrolled. I will ensure Mrs. Kong that visual and audio documentation will be done and that the information will be kept solely between the teacher in charge, and her to put her at ease should she worry about her family’s privacy.
Should Mrs. Kong wish to gather more information, I would direct her to DSA’s website at http://downsyndrome-singapore.org/content/category/1/1/51/ for news and research in relation to the field of Down syndrome. Alternatively, she can visit the DSA Resource and Information Center, which is located at Junction 8 (Office Tower), 9 Bishan Place, #06-04. There are many reference materials provided, in addition to their education toys with aid in the various developmental areas of the child, and these are all accessible to the public.
Also, since Mrs. Kong has yet to make a future appointment with her doctor for further assessment, I would recommend her to do so. Thought it may be difficult to come to terms that she may have a child with special needs, I will inform her than Early Intervention has been proven to be beneficial to many. This is supported by Lim and Quah (2004) as they explained early intervention helps to reduce undesired outcomes of the particular disabilities and can also prevent the occurrence of learning and development problems during the childhood years. Support groups such as the DSA Family Support Services(FSS) are on hand to assist parents/caregivers of persons with Down syndrome.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Inform her that Singapore opts for an integrated approach rather than an inclusive approach for those with special needs, though various organizations, such as DSA, have decided to implement inclusion. According to DSA (2009), they have carried out a research project to study the inclusion of children with Down syndrome in mainstream primary schools since 2007 as they have seen the successful inclusion of children with Down syndrome in many countries throughout the world.
In Singapore, the mission of SPED schools is to provide the “best possible education and training to children with special needs so as to enable them to function optimally and integrate well into society” (MOE, 2009, ¶1). Ultimately, Singapore aims to develop children to their fullest potential to allow them to be independent, self-supporting, and contributing members of the society. As such, I would assure Mrs. Kong that which ever education path she chooses for Nicky, Nicky will be cared for by all; should she ever need a listening ear, I will make myself available to talk to her as a friend and support her.
Lim, H. H. (2009). "Down Syndrome Association Charity Gala Dinner ". Speech Delivered at
Mystique III- Down Syndrome Association Charity Gala Dinner, held in conjunction with Miss Singapore World 2009, 31 July 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009 from the Ministry of Finance, Singapore website at
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore:
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (2007). Enabling Masterplan 2007-
2011. Retrieved 10 August 2009 from Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports website: http://www.mcys.gov.sg/enablingmasterplan/index.html
Ministry of Education (2009). Special Education in Singapore. Retrieved on 10 August 2009
from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/special-education/
Ravindran, N. (2009). The challenge of teaching special needs children. Retrieved 10 August
2009 from Singapore Institute of Management website: http://www.sim.edu.sg/mbs/pub/mag/mbs_pub_mag_list.cfm?ID=2422&mnuid=92