Children with Down’s Syndrome benefit more in mainstream schools

National 3 minutes, 20 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

CHILDREN with Down's Syndrome would achieve more in mainstream schools than if they were in special schools, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health yesterday said.

Speaking during the Education Forum for Children with Down's Syndrome, Hjh Siti Mariam Hj Mohd Jaafar said giving the children experience and education in mainstream schools would give them two opportunities; ; firstly to give them the skills to carry on with life in the adult working world and the other is the opportunity to learn social values and culture.

"It has also been proven that children with Down's Syndrome have made outstanding achievements if they were accepted into society,"she said.

"Social acceptance will give them a deep sense of identity in terms of building their self-confidence."

Although children with Down's Syndrome have learning difficulties such as speech and verbal memory, they make up for it by having strengths in other skills.

"Their strengths lie in visual memory and it is easier for them to learn from the guidance and information provided by visual aids,"she said.

She emphasised that early intervention by parents was also important for children with Down's Syndrome especially in terms of education as various research has shown that it has enhanced their development up till adulthood.

"There have been many researches showing that educating your child who has Down's Syndrome in the early stages, have made achievements that are beyond expectations," she said.

Research such as those found in the United States and Australia have indicated that early intervention is effective up to the time they enter mainstream schools including obtaining skills in numeracy and literacy.

Hjh Siti Mariam also urged for parents to be more knowledgeable of Down's Syndrome because the more knowledge they possess, the more it would be easier to help their children.

Encourage them to be more independent, she said.

"By not taking into consideration their age, mental capacity and level of development,your children can be taught to do housework if they were shown how to do it," she said.

Cooperate with professionals working with their children and always be vigilant of what their children were learning at the Child Development Centre (CDC), she added. "We are currently setting up a special association for Parents and Children with Down's Syndrome called 'Able', and I urge for parents to come and join this association," she said.

The Head of CDC Dr Hjh Mawarni Hj Abdul Hamid in an interview with The Brunei Times elaborated on the 'Able' Association.

She said that the association has been set up since 2004, but they had problems with its registration. Although she could not disclose in full detail what the function of the association was, she said that it was a support group meant to help families who have children with Down's Syndrome. "The association is one of CDC's agendas where we aim to pick up where the association left off. Now that we have nearly 50 children with Down's Syndrome we want to help the association get back on their feet," she said.

With its re-registration, she said that one of the aims of the association was to create a platform for parents whose children had Down's Syndrome, to support each other. "If you imagine a mother who just gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome she might be overwhelmed and wouldn't know what to do so the association would step in to provide non-medical support on what to do and what to expect," she said.

She said that the support the association gives will be ongoing throughout the life of parents and their children. "They will be developing services to help their children go through the different phases of their lives," she said.

Asked when it will be set up, she said that she was not sure, but hopefully it would be prompt enough to begin by sometime this year.

The Brunei Times