Saturday, October 16, 2010

Educational Options

Because of the miscarriage I haven't been able to blog 31 for 21 like I promised. The rest of the month will be spent trying to make up for that!

Twenty years ago educational options for kids with down syndrome were slim. Special schools or Special Education Classes were pretty much your only placement choices. Today, research shows that mainstreaming (partial day in a typical class) or inclusion (majority of the day in a typical class with some support) can be beneficial for some of our kids. I will try to find a link of a previous post all about the research done in the UK about inclusion. Briefly, it says that if a child is fully included they test 2 to 3 years higher than a child in SDC. In the UK 70% of all kids are included. In the US less than 10% are included. Educational plans are very personal and there is some pressure in the down syndrome community. Some over eager parents want everyone of our kids included to "prove" to the world our kids are capable. Considering I have homeschooled all of my kids at different times and for different reasons, I feel confident you will believe me when I say each kid has different strengths and weaknesses. They have different needs and different comfort levels. So, placement should be the environment that helps your child thrive and NO ONE should judge a child's potential or a parent's dedication because of their choice.

I have seen high functioning kids, who are academically strong, placed in SDC (special day classes) because of sensory issues. They thrive! I have seen moderate functioning kids placed in typical classrooms thrive because of social interaction. Sadie's first year of school we placed her in SDC Kindergarten because she was young, sick and we felt like typical kindergarten was a stretch but she was beyond preschool. This year, more mature and healthier, she is fully included with 25 mins a day pull out in a resource class to help modify her curriculum. Next year??? Depends on what is best for Sadie. Get the point?

Another important point is that every child with down syndrome is mentally retarded or developmentally delayed. Most kids with ds are tested within mild to moderate delays. A lot of parents don't like the "R" word... I don't like it to much if it is used as a word to describe what my child can not do. Medically and academically, it is true. This was a hard concept for me- probably the hardest in our journey with Sadie. It doesn't mean she can not learn--- just means she learns differently and at a different pace. I notice this most when she is mastering something new. It seems like she learns in steps and each step is obvious- unlike my older children that seemed to learn something over night. It actually helps you savor her accomplishments and gives us an understanding of how hard she works.

Even though Sadie is developmentally delayed (or MR) she has been tested within a normal IQ range. Reality is, she needs help. She learns differently, things are processed differently, her rate of learning is different; BUT, she learns! She is one smart cookie :) Next post will be about our first parent/child/teacher conference as a fully included student...


Tara said...

I'm so sorry about your miscarriage. Hugs to you! I'm interested to read your next post. School choice fascinates me as we have only homeschooled the older kids and I am undecided about Eon.

Also, federal legislation now requires the use of "Intellectually (or cognitively) delayed" vs. mentally retarded. Just FYI.

Tara said...

Oops! I guess it's actually "Intellectual Disability". Here's some more info: