Dave Hingsburger, over at Rolling Around in My Head, has an interesting post today. It's something that has bothered me for a long time whenever I have seen stories of people who have Down syndrome who are in the news because they've done something great. Or have they? Sometimes they haven't. (Go read Dave's post.)
His post reminded me of something that happened with Angela when she was in 1st grade.
It was the week of Thanksgiving, and she had come home with a paper plate turkey in her backpack. You remember those, right? Paper feathers glued on one side, the head on the other, googlie eyes, etc. Angela's turkey was beautiful. In fact, it was perfect. TOO PERFECT! Considering one of her biggest struggles was the effect a stroke had on her fine motor skills, and she could barely manage a scissors, much less cut along a line well enough to cut PERFECT feathers, I found it odd that this beautiful turkey had found it's way home. Even the eyes of this turkey were perfectly aligned. I asked Angela about her turkey, but she was indifferent.
I had subbed in Angela's special education classroom before and had seen what went on, and it had bothered me. The classroom aids did far more than "help", and with the kids who needed more assistance the "hand over hand" work was...well, they DID the craft work and the kids got to watch. Lucky them!
So the next day I attached a note to the perfect turkey and sent it back to school.
"Mr. Smith, it appears that the example turkey was put into Angela's backpack by mistake. Could you send home HER turkey? Her turkey is the one that is butchered and mangled, with the eyes lopsided and extra blobs of glue all over the place. I was really hoping to display HER turkey on our refrigerator for the holidays when her grandparents are here."
A couple days later, a mangled and sorry looking turkey came home, and Angela proudly showed it off.
Just a couple weeks later I was walking through the hallway of her school. There were now snowmen hanging on the wall outside her classroom. Although they were PERFECT, they bore the names of the students in Angela's special ed. class. All except one. There was one sorry looking snowman with both arms, hat and scarf glued to one side of his body (where one arm should have gone), one cyclops-like eye in the middle of his face, and a triangle (the nose?) on the lower body part. And there was her name too, written by herself. I know, because you couldn't tell what it said.
I was so proud of that snowman!