(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 thank Mrs Kong for sharing her concerns with me. In addition, I would hope to be able to hear more about what she and Mr Kong feel and think about it. I think that it is important to understand what she feels about Nicky’s situation and find out what she knows about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore.
Down syndrome is associated with developmental problems such as a delay development of cognitive skills such as a shorter memory capacity and in the acquisition of language. Children may also need to learn coping strategies to compensate for challenges in locomotors skills such as crawling, sitting and walking.
Singapore’s current status is integration. However, we are trying to moves towards a state of inclusion. Increasingly, teachers are being trained to teach children with special needs in a mainstream classroom. Activities will be designed in a way that promotes diversity in learning and recognizing individual strengths. I would also encourage her to visit the website of Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) to find out and learn more information. My opinion to her would be that early intervention is very beneficial. Therapist would be able to support and correct problematic behaviors that Nicky may have physically. They will also be able to teach Nicky essential skills to aid development. When early intervention is administered, a child is more likely to succeed.
(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)
According to the centre’s policy, Nicky can be enrolled when he is 18 months old. Support will be given, and I would encourage Mrs Kong to observe and work alongside teachers in the centre on Nicky’s progress and adjustment to the environment. I think that having two older siblings in the same centre will be beneficial for Nicky’s adjustment and development. However, I would also recommend established preschool centres that already have a program to include children with special needs.
I would also try to connect Mrs Kong to other mothers whose children also have been diagnosed with down syndrome. I hope that the similar experiences shared can be of comfort and can provide Mrs Kong with inspiration and direction when faced with challenges.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
According to the Down Syndrome Association Singapore (2009) Nothing done before or during pregnancy can cause Down syndrome. It occurs in all races, social classes and in all countries throughout the world. It can happen to anyone. No one is to blame.
Down syndrome is a caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. While not present in all individuals, many people with down syndrome exhibit physical features such as a flat facial profile and upward slant in the eyes. They have a tendency to suffer from physical conditions such as “muscle hypotonia” which is that muscles tend to tire more easily, and “hyperflexibility” which is that joints may lack strength or control. If babies are diagnosed with down syndrome, they may also face higher risk for certain medical conditions. Thus, it is recommended and important for Mrs Kong to make an appointment with the doctor to bring Nicky back for further assessment.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
Children with special needs regularly require additional support to function and live successfully in community settings. In Singapore, there are two plans which are commonly used. They are the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and IFSP (Individualised Family Service Plan). According to Heward (2009), Special education can be defined as purposeful intervention designed to prevent, eliminate, and/ or overcome obstacles that might keep a child with disabilities from learning and from full and active participation in school and society. (p.35)
Special schools were first started by Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs), and now serve a diverse age group and spectrum of needs. The aim of Special Education schools (SPED) is to develop each child’s capacity to his/ her fullest potential, where the education curriculum is supplemented with rehabilitative and therapy services to provide for the child’s physiological well-being as well as all-round development. (Lim & Quah, 2004, p.48) However, we are trying to move away from segregation towards inclusion, when the wider society and individuals with disability are able to live well together. Hopefully, resources will be able to be shared fairly and understanding of a person who is different from you will help them move toward a loving and caring community.
The Ministry of Education in Singapore is trying to move towards an inclusive setting where children with disabilities are able to join their classmates in mainstream education. Allied Educators will support the teachers in the application of innovative pedagogies to instruct and interact with each pupil. They will also facilitate discussion groups as well as engage the pupils in their project work. Teachers will also involve allied educators in the delivery of enriching programmes and activities outside the classroom. The allied educators will also build rapport with the pupils to help them improve their self-confidence, self-esteem and sense of independence. (Ministry of Education, Singapore 2009). Thus, I will advise Mrs Kong to take one step at a time and not to worry. We will make sure that Nicky gets the best education possible to help in succeed in the future.
Down Syndrome Information for Affirmative Action. (2009). Down Syndrome and Beyond. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.cdadc.com/ds/hypotonia.htm
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:
Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2009). Allied educators careers. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.moe.gov.sg/careers/allied-educators/
Parenting Magazine. (2009). Life with Anthony. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from http://stanford.wellsphere.com/down-syndrome-article/fromparentingmagazine/585469
Singapore Down Syndrome Association. (2009). All you need to know about Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from the Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website: http://downsyndromesingapore.org/content/view/34/111/