Tuesday, April 21, 2009

“Different Journey, Same Destination” A story on Down syndrome

This phrase was originally used by a disability advocate to express his view about people with special needs and/or disabilities having the same aspirations as the rest of us. But I have heard nearly the same quote in a much less positive way. I hear this phrase from a mother who had done the blood-sweat-and-tears to have her daughter included in the early years of inclusion in Israel. (In those days, as when I myself started including Ricki, the government gave no support, all costs where footed by the family, and parents requesting inclusion where assumed to be non-accepting of their child’s condition.) Eventually, when her child reached the age of first grade, she reluctantly gave up and put her daughter into special ed. As she bemoaned: “I spent all that time, money, and energy, and the end she ended up in the same special-ed class she would have been in normally.”
Her child had experienced a different journey, yet the destination was the same.

Next year, Ricki will also enter special ed. I have serious doubts that I will find a high school (and not to forget, a truly capable aide) willing to work with me in a way as to make Ricki’s inclusion both workable and worthwhile. So I wonder, is this also a case of “Different Journey, Same Destination”?
The answer is a resounding “NO!”
Ricki is not going into special education for first grade. Next year will be the start of high school for her. Those years of inclusion were not wasted. Her vocabulary, both passive and active, is huge. Also her expectation to be treated normally is well-ingrained. Those things alone, no to mention her high level of studies, are something that will not go lost. She owns them, and will carry them to wherever she goes.

1 comment:

RivkA with a capital A said...

I was recently at the Bat Mitzvah of a young girl who studied in Reishit, a special school in the gush that integrates a few special needs kids into "regular" classes.

At the Bat Mitzvah, I was struck by how "normal" the two girls with Down's seemed. They carried themselves just like the other girls. They were part of the class in every way. And, when we were getting our food, the young girl who was in front of me behaved politely and well-mannered (especially for an Israeli kid!).

I was so impressed about the "normalcy," I never thought to ask "and where will they be going to Jr. High and High School.... Now I wonder.