The reading for this week, Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer, was definitely great! I loved reading it, although I have to say that in some parts I had to reread to understand things better, but yet most of the time I just had to reread simply because the information and stories in the text were great. For this blog post I decided to do a reflection post.
Every time I think of children with disabilities, I think of admiration. I admire them, for their greatness, for the unique people that they are, and most importantly I don’t see as different, but rather as extraordinary people who deserve to be treated just as everyone else. I am a big believer of integrated education and after reading this article that idea has been reaffirmed.
I haven’t had many interactions with children with Down Syndrome, but just the few ones I have had have made be admire them even more. The first one was with my friend’s brother. He has Down Syndrome, and he attended middle school in Providence when I met him. For some it would have been a crazy idea to put him in an integrated middle school in Providence, but he loved it. He got to see the diversity in our schools, not just ethic wise but academic wise. My friend for her Junior Research Project, which in some schools would have seen their senior projects, did a presentation on integration for children like her brother, she got a perfect score. She showed the techniques her brother used and a calendar where he listed with symbols what he had to do each day. When I read the article, I remembered this story and I do believe that by having integrated classrooms we are creating “educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another”, because we create a community were all children get to experience and see each other’s uniqueness and abilities. We mostly create a community where we establish respect for one another regardless of any disability.
My other interaction with a person with Down Syndrome was at the Sherlock Center on the RIC campus. I don’t know if she is a student here, or if she just worked there. She was organizing papers and putting some information about them in the computer, I sat next to get as I was trying to log in into the computer. I am always confused and she noticed it. She came and introduced herself, and shook my hand. I was so surprised, and so glad to meet her. She explained to me how to log in and the password and all of that, but most of all she was so friendly and independent. She talked to me like I was a friend. She was amazing. What was most fascinating as I mentioned was her independence, and again as I read the article I think integrated education can create that. If she worked at the Sherlock Center I think that is great. I think it is important to provide people with disabilities with employment opportunities. Just like “Shayne succeeded in finding a family- owned movie rental shop that hired Anne, [because by doing that we create] not only a valued community role for Anne but one that” she loved. It is important to make them feel like they are part of the community, and that they are not any different from what we are.
As part of my reflection I have to include this quote, “John’s North Hollywood existence was a lonely and isolated one. Outside of his family he had few acquaintances and little opportunity connection. School personnel abled him “uneducable”. I was just so mad when I read that. I can’t believe there are people like that that don’t understand the greatness of people with disabilities. As the article went on I was glad to hear he moved to Mendocino, California where he found a “safe space”, which connects back to August’s Safe Spaces. There he was comfortable and found people that appreciated him, for what he was worth not for their “stereotype, [and their] mind set [that] often obscures our ability to recognize the child as a child”. He found a safe space where he could feel appreciated and not different from everyone else. I wanted to reflect on that because I think as a whole, as a whole community it is important to learn to integrate people with disabilities in everything not just schools.
As for the points I would like to talk about in class would be, what could we do as future teachers, to ensure that all of our students regardless of any disability are treated equally and with respect to enhance his or her abilities.