(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 first let Mrs Kong know that it is not her fault that her child is down with Down syndrome as it is caused by an extra set of chromosome 21 found in the baby. Doctors have yet to find the cause of this extra chromosome 21 (Down Syndrome Association Singapore, 2009). Next, I will assure her that with interventions, children with Down syndrome will learn to be independent. They will also grow to be able to take care of themselves and make friends. Further, since Nicky is diagnosed at such an early age, early interventions can be taken to help the child.
As mentioned by Heward (2009), early intervention includes different kinds of supports such as educational, health childcare and family support to reduce the effects of a disability or to prevent learning and developmental problems from happening in the early childhood years. Early interventions aims to “maximize a child’s learning during their most receptive period for learning, during the preschool years, and to lay a foundation for later learning of more complex skills” (Lim & Quah, 2004). There have also been cases where children with Down syndrome has done well in a mainstream primary school. According to Nazeer (2006), 10 year old Koh Shu Huan attends classes in a mainstream school and she juggles her school, remedial classes, tuition, hockey and dance classes. If she can do it, good interventions and collaborations between Mrs Kong and Nicky’s teachers to be will produce another child like Shu Huan.
Mrs Kong will also hear from me that people less than half of the people with special needs hold a job in Singapore (Channel NewsAsia, 2004). However, it will take another twenty years before Nicky gets into the workforce and there may be drastic changes to the workforce of people with disability.
(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 suggest to Mrs Kong to find out some information about special education schools like the Asian Women’s Welfare Association school(AWWA) which caters to children from birth till the age of 18(Lim & Quah, 2004). She can then make comparisons and decide if she wants to send Nicky into my class. Next, if she is sure that she wants to put Nicky into my class, I would be happy to speak to the principal together with Mrs Kong so as to see that necessary arrangements can be made to accommodate the child. Mrs Kong must also know that she has to work very closely with me unlike the 2 other children she has.
(ii) Nicky’s diagnosis of having Down syndrome. (2 Marks)
I would advise Mrs Kong to make an appointment as soon as possible to further assess if the child has Down syndrome. Based on Mrs Kong’s observations of Nicky seeming to be a bit slow in learning and having difficulty in sitting upright topped with the blood test, there is a high possibility that Nicky has Down syndrome. However, I will stress that facial features and observations made are very subjective. Therefore Mrs Kong should bring Nicky for a thorough checkup with the pediatrician. If she is still uncertain about the results, she may consult another doctor for a second opinion.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
I would explain to Mrs Kong that according to Heward (2009), special education is “first of all, purposeful intervention designed to prevent, eliminate, and/or overcome the obstacles that might keep a child with disabilities from learning and from full and active participation in school and society”. (Heward, 2009, p.35) Special education includes preventive, remedial ad compensatory measures. Other services or facilities to make those measures effective include, special materials, teaching techniques, equipment, psychological assessments, physical and occupational therapy, medical treatment, counseling and special transportation. (Lim & Quah, 2004)
Next, I would tell Mrs Kong that special schools are schools that accept students with diverse needs. They have curriculums based on the needs and demands of the students in their care, unlike the mainstream education where everyone learns the same curriculum. Teachers working in a special school have to be trained to manage the children’s disability and also how to prepare an individual education program (IEP) for the child. Special education teachers work with the different professionals and the parents of the child to set individualize goals for each child.
Moving on, I will let Mrs Kong know that Singapore is moving towards an inclusive society. As mentioned by Lim & Quah (2004), Singapore “appear to indicate increasing signs of a movement towards inclusion” (Lim & Quah, 2004). Although progress might be slow, I feel that it is a positive sign that Singapore is beginning to include students with special needs into the mainstream school. According to Mccoy (2001), the DSA has introduced a formal programme to include children with Down syndrome into the mainstream educational environment. Mccoy (2001) also mentioned that parents of typically developing students have no complaints and are happy as long as the mainstream students do not lose out on the teacher’s attention. Therefore, it is a very positive sign that Nicky could be included into the school even if he is diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Channel NewsAsia. (2004). More needs to be done to find jobs for the disabled. Channel NwesAsia. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from Factiva.
Down Syndrome Association Singapore – Not Disabled Differently Abled. (2009). What is Down Syndrome?. Retrieved August 10, 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.
Lim, L., & Quah, M. M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities. Singapore: McGraw Hill
Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore (2005). Retrieved August 11, 2009 from:
Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore website:
Nazeer, Z. (2006). She has Down’s but she’s not out. The New Paper. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from Factiva.
Tan Ming Fang Cassandra Group B