This past September we started home schooling. Before that our son, who has Down syndrome, attended public school in a regular classroom setting — often referred to as inclusion — at our request. After two years we realized school was hindering his education.
In school, he was hugged and picked up by other children. He was helped by peers whether he wanted it or not. Our son is very small and has difficulty being understood. Even when he yelled, “Stop!” he was mostly ignored. His identity was that of the class mascot. He sat in the back of the classroom while other students participated in group activities, counting to four with his one-to-one aid. At home, he could count to 50.
Inclusion, we realized, works only if everyone involved believes in a child’s ability to be included and to contribute something to the group.
The first day of “class” we sat down at the dining room table with our recently purchased certified curriculum. Five minutes in my son said, “No.” “You can’t say no.” But of course he could, and did for days on end.
Read more at The New York Times.
(Illustration Credit: KJ Dell’Antonia)