Saturday, April 9, 2016

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
By: Christopher Kliewer


"I have Down syndrome, but I am not handicapped." (93)

Down Syndrome: genetic disorder where there is an extra chromosome 21; causes developmental delays as well as intellectual delays.

This article was a hard read. The personal stories definitely helped me understand it better. I don't know how else to organize this post so I am just going to go by page and type what they made me think of.

"Community acceptance requires opportunity for individual participation in the group, but opportunity cannot exist outside of community acceptance." (75)
 I believe that every person, no matter who you are or what you have, should have an accepting community that helps them strive in whatever they do. If there is no accepting community, then that person cannot strive and will just go deeper into a hole and not believe in themselves.

The story on page 78 about Anne reminded me about a young guy in my high school, let's call him Bob. At my high school, we have a Special Ed. room. It is located in a huge classroom where the art hallway and music hallway meet. There are many teachers in the room for the maybe 7 students that stay in that room all day. Bob stayed in that room for all of his high school education. In fact, he stayed in that room and learned until he aged out of the system at 21 years old. My high school also had a Playschool Program where kids from the community could come in and be taught and we would be certified in the Rhode Island teaching standards. Bob loved kids and his aid thought it would be great if he could come in the room and hang out with the children while we taught. He was in the room each day the children were there for all 3 years I was in the program. When he spoke to us, we could only catch a few words. His aid understood everything he was saying since she was with him for many years. The children also completely understood what he said to them and always wanted him in the room. Each day, the "teaching" group of students would set aside time for Bob to talk to the students and basically teach them, too. Bob and the students loved that time and were so involved. Sadly, Bob turned 21 and had to leave and the children were so sad because they knew he wouldn't be coming to teach them anymore. Those days were just so important to Bob and he loved them and I wish they would let the other students in the Special Ed. room be more involved with the school and community rather than just staying in that one room all day and go to art or music at their designated time.

"No child...[is] inherently an intellectual burden to a classroom; in fact,...each student...[contributes] a unique and potentially valuable dimension to the web of relationships that formed a school community." (83)
The children should be able to interact with students who are not disabled and learn just like how non-disabled students learn. Some may need an aid or extra time, but accommodations should be made so they can learn and strive. Some students at my high school had disabilities and had an aid with them in certain classes and had extra time on some assignments and they did perfectly well interacting and learning with other students. Just like on page 92, when integrated into a "normal" school, the disabled student did completely fine and actually improved on her gross and fine motor skills.

The spoon and block test for Isaac on page 84 just aggravated me. He did EXACTLY what the psychologist told him to do, which was sort the spoons from the blocks, and Isaac did it but in his own way (licked the spoons). He sorted the spoons and the blocks but not the way the psychologist wanted him to so he was not given credit...but there were no spoons with the blocks and no blocks with the spoons....crazy lady.

Lastly, on page 86, John moved to Mendocino, California and considered it his "safe space." That relates to August and how the LGBT community needs a safe space. Disabled people need safe spaces too....everyone should have a safe space.

Points/Questions to share:

Just a thought/ this where Oakes' tracking should come into affect? Should we not categorize by disability and say "No you have Down Syndrome, you aren't smart, you belong in a special ed room" but instead say "Oh even though you have down syndrome, you are in the 70-80 range and belong with other students in that range even though they don't have down syndrome".....I don't know, it's just a thought...


  1. I completely agree with you about Isaac's spoon and block test. It's ridiculous that he wasn't given credit for that. Like you said, he did exactly what she asked him to do! Who cares if he had a different way to go about it, that way worked better for him.

  2. I really enjoyed your blog and the connections you made to personal life at school as well as August and being able to have a safe space! Great job like always!

  3. I definitely found this article hard to read as well. But it was very informative. I enjoyed how you made connections to your school experiences as well. Nice job :)

  4. This article was hard for me to read as well. I had to reread it a couple of times to actually get it ! But I agree with you that the personal story did help me get it. I love the personal aspect of the article because just being able to hear someone else's story really gets the subject across better than just statistics and data. Really enjoyed reading your blog by the way!