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 reveal to Mrs Kong about the term “Down Syndrome” and information that may assist Mrs Kong to understand the condition of her child better. As quoted from Singapore Down Syndrome Association (2009), Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. In addition, it was cited that babies with Down syndrome can occur in anyone regardless of race, social status or countries. I would assure Mrs Kong that nobody should be blamed for Nicky’s condition as nothing done during or before pregnancy can prevent Down syndrome.
The severity of Nicky’s condition is still not determined, thus, I would inform Mrs Kong that Nicky’s developmental delay may range from mild to severe. According to Brill (2006), children with Down syndrome can learn the basic skills such as talking and taking care of themselves, however, they learn such skills at a slower rate compared to other children. Nonetheless, regardless of their developmental delay, Nicky is able to develop like every other child with the right amount of support, patience and time provided. I would inform Mrs Kong about the challenges that her family may face, nevertheless, it is essential and would greatly help when parents and caregivers accept Nicky like every other child. I would assist Mrs Kong in focusing on the abilities of Nicky and how it can be developed and refined instead of looking at the inabilities.
To assist Mrs Kong greater, I would update her of resources and services that are available in Singapore that Mrs Kong can utilize such as from National Council of Social Service, Rainbow Centre and online websites such as www.up-for-reading.org that provides information, activities and resources that teaches reading skills to children down with Down Syndrome. The most important factor, for every child to excel, would be the support from family and friends.
I would encourage Mrs Kong to constantly look ahead and be optimistic for Nicky’s future in Singapore. Singapore is progressively moving into an inclusive society. At this point of time, there are growing numbers of children who are in inclusive environment. In a speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, in 2005, he stated that “Ministry of Education (MOE) aims to train 10 % of teaching staff in all schools over the next five years so that they are better at recognizing students with special needs and helping them.”
As for employment opportunities, there are organizations that allows for adults with special needs to be part of the working force. As cited from The Association for Persons with Special Needs (2006), the organization has a Centre for Adults that provide services and support to adults with special needs. Under the Centre for Adults, it offers services such as Training Programme and Job Placement. In addition, there is an organization called BizLink Centre that provides employment services for people with disabilities. BizLink centre helps persons with disabilities to find a job that matches with their capabilities.
(i) Enrolling Nicky into the centre's toddler class; and (2 Marks)
I would encourage Mrs Kong to enroll Nicky in the toddler class. Although, the diagnosis has yet to confirm Nicky’s severity, an inclusive environment for Nicky would greatly assist her in developing her social and self-help skills. As cited in Peterson & Hittie (2003), children with disability in inclusive classrooms have more social interactions and opportunities to develop social competence. Through observations and assessments done on Nicky, teachers and Mrs Kong can collaborate to figure what is best for Nicky’s development such as whether Nicky requires being in a special education classrooms and/or developing an individualized education plan that would suit best for Nicky. By working closely with Mrs Kong, it not only allows teachers to know Nicky better, it also helps Mrs Kong understand the developmental level and challenges that Nicky faces each day. Thus, Mrs Kong would be able to create a supportive environment at home that would further assist Nicky to develop.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I would advise Mrs Kong to have her child be further assessed on her condition. When Nicky’s condition is detected early, early intervention can take place and the development of a conducive and suitable environment can be created for Nicky. Early intervention would benefit Nicky because, as according to Smith and Guralnick (2007) as cited in Heward (2009), early intervention assists in reducing the result of the disability. In addition, Mrs Kong would be better informed of her child’s medical condition.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
I would inform Mrs Kong that special and inclusive education can both benefit children with special needs depending on the different developmental needs and severity of the disability. The way to determine what is best for Nicky rely on constant observation and assessment of Nicky’s development and well being. I would provide Mrs Kong with information about the advantages and disadvantages of inclusive and special education. Ultimately, it is the choice of the child and parent to choose what is most appropriate and comfortable for the family. I would, however, encourage Nicky to attend mainstream school to expose Nicky in developing social competence that is essential as she grows. After all, children down with Down syndrome, has feelings just like every child has and would want to grow up like every other child. I would inform Mrs Kong of the support that she would receive if Nicky attends mainstreams schools such as Integration Facilitation Support Programme (IFSP) and Educational Support provided by Singapore Down syndrome Association as well as lists of special schools that caters to Nicky’s learning needs such as Rainbow Centre.
Association for Persons with Special Needs, 2006. Centre for Adults. Retrieved on August 13, 2009from association for persons with special needs website:
Brill, T. M. (2006). Down Syndrome. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp
Down Syndrome Association Singapore – Not Disabled Differently Abled. (2009) What is Down Syndrome. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from Singapore Down Syndrome Association Website:
Heward, W. L., (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to Special Education (9th ed.). Upper Saddle, N.J: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Peterson, J.M., & Hittie, M. M. (2004). Inclusive teaching: Creating effective schools for all learners. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Speech made by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Education, Retrieved August 13, 2009 from Ministry of Education Website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2005/sp20051110a.htms
Done By : Siti Nadiah Bte Abdul Gani