(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore?
First and foremost, I would take reassure Mrs Kong of her concerns regarding Nicky. I would also make sure that I take my time to share with Mrs Kong more information on what Down Syndrome so that she will not feel so overwhelmed with all the information.
I would start of by telling Mrs Kong that Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 (Singapore Down Syndrome Association, 2009). Physical characteristics of Down Syndrome includes “short stature; flat board face with small eyes and nose; upward slanting eyes; small mouth with short roof, protruding tongue may cause articulation problems” (Heward, 2009).
After which, I would assure Mrs Kong that despite their slow learning rate and inadequate memory children with Down Syndrome do have the ability to learn (Lim & Quah, 2004). I believe what with early intervention, it is possible for children with Down Syndrome to turn out to be functional adults in the society. Furthermore, I would inform Mrs Kong about the Employment Development Centres (EDCs) that Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore (MINDS) runs. The EDC’s helps to prepare and seek for employment opportunities for adults with Intellectual Disabilities where Nicky would be able to seek for employment opportunities in future.
(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs Kong about:
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class;
As Nicky is only 1 year old and MINDS only offer early intervention for children at the age of 4 to 18, I would not eliminate the possibility of including Nicky into the centre’s toddler’s class. Before Nicky is enrolled into the toddler’s class, I would meet up with Mr and Mrs. Kong to find out more about Nicky’s needs and interests so that I can prepare and adapt the lessons in class that would make learning effective for Nicky. The partnership between Mrs Kong and I will be ongoing to ensure that Nicky is effectively and happily included and. However, if Nicky does not seem to be responding well to the inclusion of mainstream school, I would suggest that Mrs Kong to consider enrolling Nicky into a special needs school.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome.
From the pictures of Nicky that Mrs Kong showed, it seems that Nicky does not show any physical characteristics of a child with Down Syndrome. On the other hand, Nicky’s diagnosis is based on a blood test; therefore, it is most likely that the diagnosis is accurate. However, my qualifications as a teacher do not put me in a position to deduce if the doctor’s diagnosis was accurate. Thus, I would suggest Mrs Kong to make an appointment and bring Nicky for further assessments.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?
According to Hallahan and Kauffman (2003) as cited by Lim & Quah (2004), “Special Education is a “specially designed instruction that meets the individual needs of an exceptional student”. Special education aims to help children with disabilities to prevent eliminate and overcome barriers that they might face when learning and participating in schools or the society (Heward, 2009). Special schools for children with Down Syndrome in Singapore includes Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) and the Rainbow Centre (Lim & Quah, 2004).
On the other hand, Inclusion Education is where children with special needs go to a mainstream school where the school provides the children with support to help them to adapt in their learning experiences. Currently, there are no schools that practice inclusive learning. However, Singapore is working for schools to practice inclusive education by starting of with integration. According to Lim & Quah (2004), there is an increase in the number of VWOs over decades of years being set up, and integration and inclusion are happening in the mainstream schools.
After explaining to Mrs Kong the definitions of Special Education and Inclusive Education, I would suggest Mrs Kong to consider put Nicky under Inclusive Education unless it is evident that Inclusive Education was not working out for Nicky.
Down Syndrome Education Singapore (2009). What is Down syndrome.
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Heward, W.L. (2008). Exceptional children: An introduction to Special Education (9th Ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Lim, L., & Quah, M.M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
MINDS. (2005). About MINDS employment development centers. Movement for the
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