Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let No Voice Be Silenced!


This weeks article was from the book entitled Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer.

"Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities" 

I personally have a connection with this article because I have always been thinking about the discrimination in schools against those who are disabled. In some schools, I see that kids with disabilities are put into their "special" classrooms but never to socialize in a classroom of their peers who are not disabled. I immediately think of Leslie Grinner and her creation of S.C.W.A.M.P. The A in this acronym stands for able-bodyness. In today's society, you see someone different, you automatically judge, in other words most people will discriminate against someone who is not he same as he or she is. This discrimination doesn't just have to be of color or gender, but disability: the able bodyness of a person. In this article, it talks about how school's do not treat those with down syndrome or even disabilities with the same FAITH as they do with those whoa re capable of doing their work. Some schools just don't think these students are able to perform to their full potential because they don't KNOW their full potential. In this site however, you can see that there is an effort to inform and guide teachers to be able to teach those with down syndrome. I think that this is a positive thing to do for those with disabilities, but exploring this site, I'm not sure where they stand on those with downs being in a classroom of their peers. THAT is the biggest issue I found in this article; helping those with downs ultimately adapt to the community. 

"Community both establishes and is derived from each individual's recognition of the value of every other individual. Such realization comes about through the act of communal dialogue, or, using Dewey's term, conjoint communication...democracy can only occur when no person's voice in deterministically silenced" 

We are silencing those with what we presume to be disability. "Community requires a willingness to see people as they are-- different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society."  

My reflection on this WHOLE this is named Jonathan. I worked with Jonathan for years when I was living back in CT as a babysitter. His mother had a previous babysitter that didn't work because she couldn't seem to handle his down syndrome. At the time, he was 7 years old. When I came into the picture, I treated him as I would any other child that I babysat. I would tell him when to clean his toys, when to sit down on the couch, when to get into his pj's, never in a voice that would belittle his ability, but a stern voice as any authoritative figure would have to take. I would have MAYBE one tantrum a visit. The previous babysitter would have a tantrum with every question that she asked. The way that she asked the questions I can only assume was in a voice that was not whole hearted in having FAITH in Jonathan. Yes he has down syndrome but he understands and new everything that I asked him to do. It might have taken a few seconds to register, but he was not stupid. He was actually very smart. 

After babysitting Jonathan, I treat any person of down syndrome as such...a person. They are exactly what the quote about stated: different in mind and body but the same in spirit. I hope that in schools, these students would be treated equally by not just their peers, but their teachers. They are at school for the same reason any other child would be in a school and that is to get an education.

In class, I'd like to talk about how other people's schools were set up with their disability programs. How were they effective in helping those with disabilities and how could they have also been improved? I want to know how to stop discrimination of these students and most importantly IF they were ever to be taken advantage of because they may not be quick to judge. It pains me to think that in my work place (I work with kids and adults of disabilities) that someone would be stealing money from a person with a form of autism. It is sickening. I want to know how education can be improved with those of down syndrome!  


  1. I think inclusion is a huge way that education can be improved for students with Down Syndrome because it is educating everyone else at the same time. It is teaching people who know nothing about it that these people are not strange but instead they are just like everyone else.

  2. I agree with Francesca. I think that students with Down Syndrome should be included into regular classrooms. It would not only teach the people who know nothing about these people that they are just people like everyone, it would also teach the students with Down Syndrome that they are just like everyone else. It would give them more confidence.

    That last comment about people stealing money from the people you work with serious? If it is that is really sad that people are stooping that low.. it sickens me at well.

  3. Yes it has happened...and they were instantly fired...thank goodness! But I also my high school, they had those with down syndrome in the classroom with an aid so they were included in the classroom but when needed had an aid to guide them.

  4. Your story is so relevant. Many people don't understand how to work with people with disabilities and unfortunately some of these people are teachers. When our teachers don't know how to interact with children with disabilities then that is when education becomes difficult and a chore. If everyone could understand how you interacted with Jonathan, then maybe our schools wouldn't be such a horrible place for kids to learn.