Sunday, April 17, 2011

Schooling Children With Down Syndrome - Kliewer


For me initially getting into this article i struggled. i had to go back a bunch of times to reread things because i was forgetting what i just read and looking at the words in the article but not really thinking about what it was saying. After going through it for a while i really started to read the story about Isaac Johnson. I couldn't help, but to relate it to my cousin in some ways. Now my cousin didn't have nearly as severe a case as Isaac did, but my cousin was projected to not really be able to learn or do much. 

Now Isaac had no speech that the teachers could understand, he had an awkwardness about him, he couldn't complete motor tasks such as turning pages of a book, and he failed some basic tests. What i loved so much about this story was the way Shayne helped him and didn't treat him like he had a disability. She actually embraced it, which i thought was awesome.

When my cousin was born they told our family that she had a pretty high case of down syndrome and she probably wouldn't be able to comprehend a lot of basic things and would really struggle learning wise. This put a lot of pressure on her immediate family because they would have to spend so much extra time trying to teach her basic life skills to survive. Now most doctors said that it would be as if she were a toddler for the rest of her life. However we have to give credit to my great grandmother because she spent an incredible amount of time with my cousin. Teaching her things over and over and over, treating her like a normal person and not favoring her for her "disability". She taught her so much. It shocked everyone how much my cousin was able to learn and apply. Things the doctors said she would never be able to do she was doing. And it was just spending the time with her and trying to teacher her in different ways. Not downing her for not being able to learn things the way other people do, and embracing her for who she was. I think that's why i liked this story so much. Shayne didn't frown upon her student for their disabilities. She embraced them! at one point in the article she says;

"It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail."

I really liked this quote. She wants to teach her students and help them learn. She doesn't want to set them up for failure, and I think there needs to be more teachers out there like that to help kids with disabilities. I mean look at my cousin. All it took was some extra time and care for her to do things the doctors said would never happen. However I'm not saying that's the case for every child, but i think we need more teachers like Shayne who aren't going to go into it thinking failure, but rather go into in trying to get the kids to learn. 

I feel like i kind of just went off on a bit of a tangent and I'm hoping that i got the gist of the article, but i had to write about this part of the article because i really enjoyed the way Shanye taught her class and her drive to get her student to learn, even though many of them had been labeled with disabilities. I think we would see a lot more progress in learning for kids with disabilities if there were more teachers like Shayne. 


Lastly there was this really cool website called Down Syndrome education international which i thought was really great. i had never heard of it before but what it is a program that works across the UK and the world to help improve the quality of support and education for kids with down syndrome. i thought this was awesome i had never really heard of this before now. 

In class i would just like to talk about what kind of programs everyone had in their high schools? Did kids with down syndrome ever go into classes with them? How good were the programs at everyones high schools?


  1. I feel like doctors help create the limits we put on children with down syndrome. Like, if the doctors hadn’t said how little your relative would be able to do in her life you wouldn’t be as surprised at how much she could learn. But I get they’re just doing their job, but I don’t, if I ever had a kid with down syndrome I don’t think I’d want to know their limitation because there’s no way to truly know what those are until you’ve spent time with the child.

  2. I couldn't agree more with both you and Heather about the dangers of labels. In my Special Ed 300 class we had to read this book "The State Boys Rebellion" and basically what happened was that kids with normal IQs (they had some learning disabilities and behavior disorders in some cases) who became wards of the state were locked up in this school called Fernald and were labeled as "morons". They couldn't leave and they were told that they would be there for life. And this was in the 1960s in Massachusetts! I know this is a pretty extreme case, but labels can be really damaging because they can easily end up limiting people and preventing them from reaching their full potential.

  3. Great post. My uncle is an individual with a disability. My grandmother never believed that he could do anything. He lived with my grandmother from the time he was born up until now. His disability is not too severe. We go to the Cape every summer and he comes along with us. He has a great time! My grandmother is now in a nursing home and my uncle lives by himself. He is fully capable of doing everything for himself. It is amazing to see all of the things that he can do now that she isn't there doing everything for him anymore.