To make SPED a success...
Monday, 12 November 2012
TODAY, Voices (Pg 12)
From Dr Noel Chia
I refer to
"New counselling options for parents of special needs kids" (Nov 3)
and applaud the Education Ministry's efforts to play a greater role in special
It signals to all, especially keen observers such as myself, to expect more
constructive engagements and positive changes in the SPED landscape here.
I have two comments. First, I am heartened that counsellors from voluntary
welfare organisations will provide emotional support to parents with special
This is especially essential when parents must make an informed choice and
decide whether to switch their children from mainstream schools to SPED
Having worked with these parents, I know that many feel guilty over whether
they were withdrawing their children from mainstream schools too early. Many of
them thought they were being cruel in depriving their children of a regular
In fact, many parents would prefer to let their children stay longer in a
mainstream school, hoping that the latter would eventually catch up with their
This false belief should be addressed soonest and could be best achieved
through close collaboration involving staff from both mainstream and SPED
Second, our concern should also be focused on the children's well-being. It can
be challenging for a child with special needs who is transferred from a
mainstream to a SPED school.
Besides learning to adapt to a SPED environment, the child must learn how to
socialise with other exceptional children, whose diverse learning and
behavioral challenges could range from moderate to profound levels of severity.
More time may be needed to prepare the child for a proper transition and smooth
integration into the new environment.
Perhaps, to ensure the success of the new SPED initiatives, we could apply the
same fundamentals underlying the student-centric, values-driven education
mentioned by the Education Minister at his ministry's recent Work Plan Seminar:
That for every SPED school to become a good school, it should involve every
SPED teacher as a caring educator; every parent, a supportive partner; and
every child with special needs, an engaged learner.
(Dr Noel Chia is
from the Early Childhood and Special Needs Education Academic Group, National
Institute of Education, Singapore)
Source: TODAY, Voices (Pg 12), mediacorp