Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nur Tahirah Bte Abdul Latiff, Group A

(a) What would you reveal to Mrs. Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore?

To alleviate Mrs. Kong’s concerns about Nicky, I would firstly empathize and acknowledge her feelings when learning about her child having Down Syndrome. Nevertheless, I would assure her that Down Syndrome is caused by a genetic factor which is “the result of chromosomal abnormality” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 325). Hence, she should not feel guilty or accountable for the cause of her daughter’s impairment as no one is to be blamed.

Next, I would share my personal belief that every child has special needs – they each have their own strengths and limitations. Heward (2009) added that like any other children, children with Down Syndrome may need extra support in some areas of learning and development (i.e. cognitive development). On the other hand, they may need minimal support in other developmental areas of life (i.e. physical, emotional and social development). “With appropriate supports over a sustained period, the life functioning of the person with intellectual disabilities generally will improve.” (Luckasson & Spitalnik, as cited in Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 320).

The future of Singapore for people with Down Syndrome seems hopeful. In mainstream school settings, teachers do not only have higher qualifications, but are either trained or have exposure towards special education as well. In addition, “a number of services exist at the school level for students with intellectual disabilities” such as the Encouraging Achievement and Better Learning (ENABLE) programme, as well as the Learning Support System (LSP) programme (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 324).

Apart from offering special education programmes in special schools, both the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and the Association for Persons with Special Needs (ASPN) provide employment centres especially for people with Down Syndrome (Lim & Quah, 2004). Such employment centres offer “employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities” to “maximize and develop their vocational and social abilities” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 34).

(b) Given the limited information provided, what would you advise Mrs. Kong about:

(i) enrolling Nicky into the centre’s toddler class

I would strongly advise Mrs. Kong to enroll Nicky into the centre’s toddler class. I would share the benefits that Nicky might gain when enrolling into the class where interaction with peers would provide opportunities for Nicky to learn and develop social, communication and other skills within a natural environment (Peterson & Hittie, 2004). In fact, I would add that not only Nicky would benefit from the enrolment into the centre, but for Mrs. Kong herself, as well as the teachers and other children in the centre (Peterson & Hittie, 2004).

In addition, as a Toddler and Senior Teacher in the centre, I can share with her some anecdotes of children with special needs in the centre as well as share my past experiences when dealing with children with special needs. I can also discuss several strategies and/or adaptations that I may adopt when teaching Nicky in the class.

(ii) Nicky’s diagnosis of having down syndrome.

Despite the photograph which showed no facial signs indicating that Nicky has Down Syndrome, the blood test analysis from the doctor, is a more accurate diagnosis. Thus, I would advise Mrs. Kong to make an appointment and bring Nicky for further assessment as instructed by the doctor. I would explain that with early diagnosis, it will help to prevent, eliminate and/or overcome learning and development problems during the early childhood years (Heward, 2009).

(c) What would you disclose to Mrs. Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore?

I would disclose to Mrs. Kong that according to Hallahan and Kauffman (as cited in Lim and Quah, 2004), special education is a “specially designed instruction that meets the unusual needs of an exceptional student” (p. 30). Special education exists in both special schools and mainstream schools.

Special Education (SPED) schools in Singapore offer “rehabilitative and therapy services which provide for the child’s psychological well-being as well as all-round development” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 48). SPED schools for children with Intellectual Disabilities such as Down Syndrome in Singapore include MINDS, ASPN, Metta School and Grace Orchard School. Out of these four schools, only MINDS offer Preschool Programmes for children aged 4 to 6 years old (Lim & Quah, 2004). Often, children who are “once placed in the special education system, many of them do not usually return to the mainstream school system” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 324).

Inclusive education on the other hand, emphasizes on “the meaningful interaction of regular class and special students in either social activities or classroom instruction” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 31). In Singapore, I would say that a whole-approach of inclusive education is not fully practiced. Nevertheless, a large number of mainstream schools which offers integration of students with special needs in their classes show Singapore’s movement towards practicing inclusion. This is supported by the fact that “there is a sizeable number of children with intellectual disabilities who are enrolled in mainstream schools in Singapore” (Lim & Quah, 2004, p. 323).


Heward, W.L. (2009). 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.

Nur Tahirah
Group A


  1. I feel that Tahirah's plans to communicate with Mrs. Kong on the personal level is good. To have the assurance of a practitioner in the field may help reduce any anxieties she have. Additionally, Tahirah stated concrete examples of how inclusion can be successful in a mainstream classroom. Her positive tone and the alternatives she provided will help Mrs. Kong better understand special education in Singapore.

  2. “I would share my personal belief that every child has special needs – they each have their own strengths and limitations.” I feel that there is much truth to this statement, it is because in a truly inclusive classroom the focus is not just on the child with special needs but to also focus on appreciating the diversity brought by each and every child. I find that by telling this to Mrs Kong it would greatly help to reassure her feelings about Nicky.

    Furthermore, I can’t help but agree more with Tahirah that “The future of Singapore for people with Down Syndrome seems hopeful”. From my perspective, it applies to children with other special needs and that even though the changes made to encourage inclusion may be occurring slowly but surely. This prompted me to critically think of how I can contribute in helping to advocate for inclusion.

    By Ong Sock Yee group B

  3. i'm not sure if it's still valid, but I typed the comment above and forgot to leave my name.

    Cheryl Lee Group B