Over the past few weeks, the back to school posts have been popping up all over Instagram and Facebook while parents excitedly (most of the time) prepare for the returning of their children to school. I've seen posts after parents have found out their child's teacher and then asking what friends will be in their classes. I've smiled looking at pictures of kids dressed in their first day clothes while their kids are smiling excited for the new journey that lies ahead.
In the meantime, I have been contacting our attorney with the hopes that we can find out what grade Colin will be in, what teacher he may have, and even what school he will be in. I have never been as disappointed as I am now reflecting over the past year and as we prepare for our Due Process hearing which is beginning on Wednesday.
If only the amount of effort that has gone into showing how Colin has "failed" and "doesn't belong in gen ed" this year went into actually supporting him, the results of this year may have been completely different.
You see, the thing with inclusion is that it requires the members of your child's "team" to work together and collaborate, all of the time, in order for a child to be successful. There isn't just one way for inclusion to work, it often takes a lot of work in order to find the right recipe. I feel disappointed and sad that we didn't have that team because I believe that when most looked at Colin, they saw Down Syndrome. They saw challenges and difficulties instead of abilities and potential. Instead of finding ways to support Colin, they saw a list of reasons why he shouldn't be there.
In talking about his daughter Jillian who has Down Syndrome in his book "An Uncomplicated Life", Paul Daughterty says, "She has affected everyone who has taken the time to see her. Seeing isn't easy. It requires participation. It implies understanding. Seeing is a mandatory swatch of the human fabric. It invokes a civil right. Do not judge me on what I look like. See me for who I am.".
For a very short time, Chris and I were parents who were very afraid of the future for Colin. Since we didn't know any better when he was first born, we saw a LOT of Down Syndrome, and only a little bit of Colin. We learned very quickly that in reality, it's the opposite. There's a whole LOT of Colin and a little bit of Down Syndrome. We see him for who he is and not for his diagnosis. I hope one day the same can be said for those that work with him too.
"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will believe its whole life that it is stupid." - Einstein