October is an awareness month for a lot of things such as breast cancer, domestic violence, and the one that hits home for me, Down Syndrome. If my son didn't have Down Syndrome this might just be one of those things that you think about for a moment then brush it off because it has nothing to do with you or anyone around you. That's how we all are, though and so when people don't care as much about this as I do, it doesn't really bother me as much as it first did.
I do want to talk about it so that maybe it sparks something in someone else, just like with breast cancer. A lot of football players in the NFL wear pink to represent someone they love who has or has had to deal with breast cancer, but why doesn't anyone wear blue or yellow? It's hard for me to believe that NO ONE in the NFL has had to deal with someone they love having a disability and from some research I've done Down Syndrome is pretty common. Maybe one day people will have spoken up enough to have something represented for those who don't know others see them as "different."
For the past few months my biggest stress has been trying to decide whether or not to put Gio in school. I didn't think he was ready for a "real" preschool classroom with 20 or so kids and 1 or 2 teachers. He wasn't at the level, I felt. So his coordinator at Child Find did an evaluation so my son actually is eligible for special education classes. It sort of breaks my heart for my son only because I know how mean people can be about special education. Anyways, I went and visited the school and it was perfect! There's 6 or 7 kids with 4 teachers. The kids are all pretty much at Gio's level and they get speech therapy and occupational therapy twice a week and a social worker visits once a week to make sure everything is going good. They also get 15 minutes of integrated learning meaning he will get to be in the "regular" preschool classroom to see how he does there. It is a 3 hours a day/5 days a week program. My only concern is that I wouldn't have anyone to take him or pick him up, so they offered for the bus to do that for me. Someone will be there to buckle him up and help him down when he gets to school. This is what I am looking forward to for next fall and I'm VERY excited for Gio to go to school. I know it will be very good for him. The teachers and other staff seem very loving and concerned about the kids which made me love that school so much more. It made me feel better that my son will get the individual attention he needs.
I now have a new worry, though. I recently read a story about an 11 year old boy in Florida who has Down Syndrome and had a bad incident at his school. He is adopted by his grandparents after his parents couldn't care for him. He goes to a school specifically for children with disabilities, so his grandparents thought they had made the right decision since the staff their should have been trained to deal with these childrens' different needs. It seems as though the little boy throws himself on the ground when he is upset or frustrated and a few weeks ago the principal was called to his classroom to help him. The principal couldn't get him to get up, so she dragged him, yes DRAGGED HIM. Police reports show that the boy was dragged a little under 30 feet and unfortunately some of that was concrete and over two door thresholds.
When his grandpa picked him up he was in total shock (I personally would have gone off on everyone right then and there!) He saw the bruises and scratches on his grandson's arms and found that his rib cage was severely bruised. He reported the principal to the police despite the emails and cards the principal has sent apologizing to the family. She claims that the child didn't seem distressed at the moment and the injuries were unfortunate (NO SHIT). Reading this article really infuriates me because this principal is suppose to be the leader and example of the other staff as to how to care for the children in her school. It worries me that people are so ignorant at times. Would she have dragged a "normal" kid at a "normal" school? The grandparents have moved the boy to another school.
It's sad that educators and even authorities have no knowledge on how to act in certain situations, just like with Robert Ethan Saylor. He passed away because of the lack of training most police officers have in situations where they have to handle a person with a disability. It is so unfortunate how people feel like if they don't know someone with a disability they don't need to know even the basics about it. This worries me with my son because I was so excited to put him in school, but there will always be risks and the majority are risks we have to take. The best that I can do as a parent is educate those around my son and make sure that I'm always around to see what's going on. I can only ask that anyone who knows about these things help educate others as well, awareness is the key.