(a) What would you reveal to Mrs Kong regarding your professional view about children with Down Syndrome and their future in Singapore? (4 Marks)
First of all, I would reassure Mrs Kong about her worries. I would share her with the information I have about children with Down Syndrome. With these information, she would understand more about Down Syndrome and provides Nicky with the necessary supports at home. According to Lim and Quah (2004), persons with mild intellectual disabilities are often capable of taking care of their own basic self-care and daily living needs. Furthermore, they are able to travel around the communities independently.
In Singapore, it is moving towards knowledge intensive high-tech industries. Thus, employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome may be limited. However, there are still different types of jobs available for people with Down Syndrome. (Lim and Quah, 2004).
(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 advise Mrs Kong to enrol Nicky into the centre’s toddler class. This is because I feel that children with disabilities should be given a chance to study in mainstream schools. They should interact with children in the mainstream schools. In addition, Singapore is moving into an inclusive society. More mainstream schools are welcoming students with disabilities. Furthermore, during my degree course, I attended modules regarding special needs. Thus, I would have the necessary knowledge about different types of disabilities and adapting my lesson plans to the needs of all diverse learners in the classroom.
(ii) Nicky's diagnosis of having Down Syndrome. (2 Marks)
I feel that it is good that Mrs Kong and her husband come to term with Nicky having Down Syndrome. This is because they can then begin with early intervention for Nicky. Early intervention is services which are provided for infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 (Heward, 2009). According to Smith and Guralnick (as cited in Heward, 2009), “early intervention consists of a comprehensive system of therapies, educational, nutritional, childcare, and family supports, all designed to reduce the effects of disabilities or prevent the occurrence of learning and developmental problems later in life for children presumed to be at risk for such problems” (pg. 536). With early intervention, Nicky would be able to benefit from the programs.
(c) What would you disclose to Mrs Kong about special education, special school and inclusive education in Singapore? (6 Marks)
According to Heward (2009), special education is a purposeful intervention planned to prevent, reduce, and/or overcome the obstacles that might restrain a child with disabilities from learning through full and active participation in school and society. Furthermore, there are three basic types of intervention: preventive, remedial and compensatory. Special schools are school for children with severe disabilities (Heward, 2009). In Singapore, there are several schools which cater for children with mild Down Syndrome. Such schools are Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), AWWA Special School, Rainbow Centre and Metta School. However, there are only two special schools which provide programs for children as young as Nicky. The two schools are AWWA Special School which caters for children from birth to 18 years and Rainbow Centre which caters for children from birth to 16 years (Lim and Quah, 2004).
According to Lim and Quah (2004), inclusive education is when students with disabilities are integrated into general education classrooms whether or not they are able to meet the curricular standards and should be full participants in the classrooms. In Singapore, there are several programs available to support children with disabilities in the mainstream schools. Such programs are Therapy and Educational Assistance for Children in Mainstream Education (TEACH ME), Encouraging Achievement and Better Learning (ENABLE) Program, Learning Support Program (LSP) and REACH ME project under the Autistic Resource Centre (ARC). Allied Educators are also assigned to the mainstream schools to help support children with disabilities.
Heward, W.L. (2008). Exceptional children: An introduction to Special Education (9h ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Lim, L., & Quah, M.M. (2004). Educating learners with diverse abilities.
Singapore: McGraw Hill.