Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Citizenship in Schools:  
Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
Christopher Kliewer


This reading was extremely interesting, because it displayed interest into what I like to learn about.  I want to be a Special Education teacher so it is nice to read things that have to do with what I want to do. Kliewer did a great job with this piece, even though the first few pages were boring and didn't show any interest.  But, once it started to talk about real cases of Down Syndrome or cases of disabilities.  Jason Kingsley states:
"Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rick 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."
Kingsley made a strong point about the fact that people who are dealing with mental disabilities are not different from you and I.  It is the fact that people view people with mental disabilities negatively.  Judith Snow replies by saying:
"How absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voice we have."
Two strong voices that describe the reality of today.  People who don't have disabilities are the ones who are criticizing the one who do.  Having a disability doesn't make a person a "bad" person or a "weird" person, they are people with a challenge that they have to face everyday.  The only reason why people look at people with disabilities differently is because of stereotypes.  What if people didn't stereotype everything?  Would it be different?  YES, it would.

I loved how Kliewer used specific cases from the field.  I loved how he mentioned that Shoshone School and the cases within it.  The story of Isaac really touched my heart.  Shayne Robbin worked amazingly with teachers and parents to help intertwine these students imperfections into the classroom and to make the classroom as one no matter what the disability was.  Then came the reality of Anne, a graduate who couldn't receive the job that she wanted because she had Down Syndrome.  In high school, she was already denied her opportunities of the classes she wanted.  Shayne Robbin gave this girl the opportunity to work in a family-run business. The transition committee that Shayne proposed the idea to them and then Shayne told the irony of what they said:
"They didn't think it was realistic, that she could handle that job.  Here they have her educating America's future, but they're scared to let her work at a movie place."
Who know that people were scared to have a person with Down Syndrome work in a real work place.  It shocks me to no end.

 Shayne Robbins talks to Colleen Madison who notices a boy named Lee.  A second grader who has distinct facial characteristics, awkward body movements, and his inability to speak more than a few understandable words.  But, this boy has a cognitive level of a 2-year-old which is translated into severe mental disability.  Colleen Madison touches my heart when she says this:
"I suppose you could argue that and it's hard to argue that you might be wrong.  Lee is, in a sense, in a way he's branded.  People see him.  They see Down syndrome.  They see mental challenge, retardation, whatever you want to call it.  That's what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him.  Do you know what I mean?  Because lee is Lee, and anybody who knows Lee knows, and this includes all the kids, they know he's gifted- in how he solves problems cares about other, reads, loves math.  So I guess what I'm arguing is that if you did pick Lee out, you wouldn't be seeing Lee.  It's you, and it has nothing to do with Lee.  But if that's how you choose to see him, I don't know that anything I could do, we could do, I don't think think there's anything Lee could do to change your mind." 
Many people look at children who have a physical disability and think to themselves, "that child is retarded."  [Even though the R is restricted now]  People correlate physical attributes to mentality.  When people think of Down Syndrome see it as a diversity from being normal.
"Community banishment of students with Down syndrome stems from their lack of behavioral and communicative conformity to school standards that form the parameters of intellectual normality.  In essence, a gap exists between the performance of students with Down syndrome and the performance expectations that define a useful individual." 
There is a societal difference between Down syndrome and a highly functional individual.  And society clearly establishes the difference between the two by individualizing children with down syndrome into a special education room in schools.  Children with down syndrome are unlikely to be in a classroom with other individuals at a high functional cognitive level.

This reading relates to August.  Even though this reading does not go along the lines of LGBT, August talks about safe spaces in schools.  Children with Down syndrome need to feel safe in schools especially because there are a bunch of people who are stereotypical.  These students are not erased or invisible in a group of highly functioning individuals.  Children with all disabilities should feel safe in school.  All school systems should establish a safe and comforting environment for all students who are struggling with social skills, mental skills, or physical skills.  Schools should always be a place for students to want to come, it should never be a place of resistance, or a place where they don't want to be.

Points to Share:  
Think of the difference that could be made if children with Down Syndrome weren't thought down on, and were thought for themselves- Smart.  If people could look past the physical factors and look at their intellect; the way that people see others, or even interact with others would be completely different.


  1. Great post! I also loved the personal stories Kliewer wrote about, especially Isaac's. This article did relate to August and safe spaces. I also believe that people with Down syndrome should have a safe place because people can be mean in this world. Your pictures are great, too...really connects with what you say.

  2. Great post! I really liked the quotes you chose. I felt the same way about Colleen Madison's quote. She sees her student Lee in a different way than other people would. If only every one would look at students with disabilities the way that she does.

  3. Really good post! I had to go to your post to try and get a better understanding of this reading . Your post helped me see the connection between this and August's idea of safe spaces. I really liked the quotes that you used and I also agree with Ariana that your pictures went right along with what you were saying.

  4. I really enjoyed you blow per usual! Both of the pictures you included were also really interesting and really were touching. I also really liked your quotes, some of those are the ones that stood out to me too!!!

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog this week. I also thought that the article was very interesting and had a lot of great points. You chose really great quotes especially ones concerning labeling special education students as different.

  6. The article you included was really interesting! Great choice of quotes you did really good with the reflection of them and making the connection to August and Safe spaces. I also believe people with Down Syndrome should have a safe space! Your pictures were spot on with what you are saying!