Thursday March 6, 2014
Comments from and conversations with families always give me a broader perspective of how parents perceive certain concepts. "Inclusion" is one of them. It seems to be that for many parents, countries like the United States and Spain are considered by foreigners as "inclusive" countries. And since they may be challenged to find an inclusive educational or social environment in their own countries, they feel that moving to one of these inclusive countries would be the answer to all their needs.
Inclusion is more than a law. It's also not a physical location, and it's definitely not a created place to where parents can arrive and relax. It's instead a part of the lives of parents and educators. It's a permanent challenge and as parents, it is the self-determination to continue to educate people around us, starting with ourselves. Inclusion starts in the heart of a parent, and evolves when we learn to be objective and realistic about our kids' abilities.
Thursday March 6, 2014
I've had two totally different experiences with both of my kids when they started school. They both have Down syndrome, so I thought the processes might have been similar, but they weren't. And the difference was not the system nor the school, but my own perception of inclusion, and a new focus on celebrating their abilities, instead of being scared of their disability.
My son was a victim of my own ignorance. When he started school, I didn't know much about laws, but I knew even less of the benefits of inclusion for a child with Down syndrome. On top of my parental fears of him being rejected, pointed at or mistreated, he was my first child in this country that now is my home, a country that I didn't know much about at the time.
However, I'm glad to say that today, my son is close to 10 years old, and for two years he's been in a mainstream classroom where he has bloomed and has become part of a group where he's accepted and respected.
Tuesday March 4, 2014
When parents and educators talk about the development of people with Down syndrome, we have to be very careful that the goals we set for our children are not based on other people´s achievements. Yes, it's true that more and more people with Down syndrome are going to college. Many of them have achieved what was considered unachievable years ago; they have graduated from college and are living fairly independent lives. But this situation doesn't mean that every person with Down syndrome will do the same, or that they need to in order to be happy.
We all want our children to be respected for their abilities. We don't want people to set limits for them, without giving them the opportunity to demonstrate all the things they are capable of. But if we lose our objectivity in the process of motivating them, we can hurt instead of help them to develop their full potential.
Friday February 28, 2014
Even though we all know that all children with Down syndrome may require physical, occupational and language/speech therapy during their development or maybe throughout their life, more therapy doesn't necessarily equal more advancement and should never be considered a way to fix a child. Therapy is a form of guidance that reinforces your child's development, and at the same time teaches you, as a parent, how to integrate this guidance into your child's natural routines.
Your Local Early Intervention Program offers parent training, local events and interaction with other families through community activities; these events are specially created to promote inclusion and create awareness of people with special needs. Here you can learn more about these services.