My New Year Wishes as the mother of children with Down syndrome are simple but game changing,
- I hope that people can finally understand that the whole idea of special education is to take the time to recognize the individual and his needs, not to try to save time by designing diagnosis-based individualized education plans that with a few adjustments or tricks, are intended to fit them all.
- I hope professionals acknowledge their responsibility at the time of offering suggestions to families. No matter how strong a parent may be, there is always a time in which he depends entirely on another’s opinion to set goals for his child in life. Sadly most of us grow to become advocates after experiencing the consequences of setting poor expectations based on recommendations from those who should be guiding us to make the best decisions for our children. Don’t make us grow out of disappointment. Help us learn.
- I wish for people to take responsibility for their role and their impact in their community. I wish for people to understand that every time a child is denied a proper education and proper opportunities, that child is destined to a low quality life and lack of independence that not only affects him or her and his or her family, but our entire society. Inclusion is teamwork.
- I encourage teachers and professionals to challenge their own expectations and to nurture the passion that made them choose this path. Let’s change the approach that has taught us to fear disability and limit children based on their appearance or diagnosis. Let’s all embrace challenge as a team, let’s exhaust resources, let’s teach, inspire, and change a life. I hope every educator comes to the job with endless passion and with an honest desire to welcome everyone and work tirelessly to give every child the opportunities he needs, but most importantly, the opportunities he or she deserves.
- I truly hope there comes a day in which people stop justifying segregation based on lack of social or academic skills. Let’s be honest people, no individual graduates from a segregated setting with more social skills or bigger opportunities in life. And it’s not their fault; it’s not their parents’ fault. It is our educational system’s fault as it still works under a mindset that limits our children based on a money-saving strategy that eventually hurts us all even more because it denies proper education to individuals that grow to become young adults who have never been exposed to real circumstances of life.
To my fellow parents,
Believe when I say that I understand this is not an easy path. But our decisions today define their future. Every time we choose to take the easiest path, we deny them of having the best.
Let’s not settle for less because every time we do it, we diminish the fight of those who believe in equality and who are trying to change the rules to abolish the laziness that has transformed “Least Restrictive Environment” into the least challenging placement.
In 2017, let’s work all together to raise the expectations for our children based on the fact that they should be treated with the least hurtful assumption, which means, their most basic right as individuals is to be given the highest opportunity first.