"Watchman" may lower stroke risk
SHE scored an aggregate of only 90 points for her Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), but Chung Xin En's parents are extremely proud of her.
Not only will Xin En be heading to secondary school, but her feat maywell enter the record book. The 13-year-old girl is believed to be the first person with Down syndrome to pass the PSLE.
A check with the Ministry of Education and the Down Syndrome Association DSA showed that no official records were kept of such children taking the examination.
Dr Saba Iqbal executive director of DSA told The New Paper:"As far as we know Xin En is the first child with Down syndrome who has passed the PSLE."
The abilities of Down syndrome children can vary a lot. And Xin En s abilities are on the higher side of this range.
They usually have an IQ of between 50 and 70. Normal IQ is between 90 and 110.
The top PSLE student this year scored an aggregate of 290. The lowest score this year was 45.
Xin En scored a C for both English and Chinese and achieved a grade 4 for foundation mathematics. She did
not have to take the foundation science examination.
She will study in the Normal Technical stream in secondary school.
Dr Chung Keng Yeow, 46, an assistant professor at National University of Singapore said of his daughter "She's making good progress. She still has quite a long road to go. Clearing the PSLE is a good start.
"We are happy that she can study alongside her peers and make friends with them." When Xin En was bom, her parents were not prepared for a baby with Down syndrome.
Madam Lai Yin Kew, 47, was 34 when she was pregnant with XinEn.
Doctors recommend that pregnant women above 35 undergo screening test for Down syndrome.
Said Dr Chung: "The doctor said there would be a risk of miscarriage ifwe did the test so we didn't, as the
risk of having a baby with Down syndrome was not that significant."
After Xin En's birth the family returned to California in the United States where Dr Chung was pursuing his
doctoral degree at Stanford University.
"It helped that for the first six years of her life we were in the US."
"Seeing how people dealt with Down syndrome there was an eye opener and gave us hope," said Dr Chung
He said the family saw many people with me same condition as Xin En out and about leading independent lives and being "mainstreamed".
Which was why when they returned to Singapore they thought of malnstreamingXin En.
It was by chance that they got Xin En into Zhangde Primary School.
After returning from the US the family bought a home and went to a nearby school to place their elder son who was then in Primary Six.
Said Dr Chung: "The principal was very nice She noticed we had Xin En and suggested that we try her in the school for a month."
Xin En started Primary One with her peers and after a month the principal and teachers thought she was
benefiting from the experience.
"From then, we decided to let her try for as long as possible," said Dr Chung who also has a third child a
daughter aged 5. His son and younger daughter are normal.
Just for experience
Last year, after Xin En had spent six years in primary school the principal suggested that she take the PSLE
"to just try it for experience".
She did and scored Ds for her languages and an E for science She was not graded for mathematics.
"She did better mis year," said Dr Chung.
Said Dr Saba: "Mainstream primary school education for children with Down syndrome is not compulsory."
"But some parents do choose to send their children to mainstream schools Whether they get in or not
depends on the goodwill ofthe principals."
This year DSA launched its integration support programme and is currently working with seven mainstream schools.
"We are supporting nine children," said Dr Saba.
Dr Bhavani Sriram senior consultant at the department of neonatology at KK Womens and Children's Hospital, said that one in every 700 to 800 live births here is a baby with Down syndrome.
She is Xin En's doctor.
"Children with Down syndrome belong to the moderate intellectual disability group Things for them are different now," said Dr Bhavani.
"There is much more social awareness and attention There are now many support groups for parents. But more can be done."
Dr Bhavani said that many with Down syndrome go to universities in the West.
"They may not graduate but they will go through a system of education Their societies try to integrate them into the community as much as possible," she said.
Xin En's parents hope she can lead an independent life eventually.
"She has cleared her PSLE Next we will teach her how to take a bus probably in a year's time. She should
be ready by then," said Dr Chung.