Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

True Successes

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!


NDMom said...

I TOTALLY agree with you....would rather have something made by Grace any day! Perfect is way over-rated!

Great post, by the way!

Dave Hingsburger said...

I remember being a behaviour consultant to a classroom for kids with profound disabilities. I watched in astonishment as the teacher and aides did crafts all day and sent them home. They were astonished when I suggested that they involve the kids and that maybe the problem behaviour I was called in to help deal with was because the kids wanted to do the crafts. They looked at me like I was an alien and then requested another consultant.

aprilanecdotes said...

Yes to having the kids do their own school crafts. I can't agree with Dave on his blog. I posted my comment there. After working on inclusion for 22 years I realize it is OK to let your child shine in a situation like the football game. Believe me the football star with DS is not having self-esteem problems. Did you ever tell either of your 2 kids good job when really it was just OK? I think that touch down added to his self-esteem and I can gaurantee he is included a lot more in high school now with his peers! Susan

Becca said...

That drives me *crazy* with Samantha's school. I don't hesitate to cull those "art" projects from the collection, as I know she had no hand in them.

However, the new school she attends 2 days a week (a "typical" private preschool) makes it a *policy* that the artwork that the children create is *solely* theirs, and that there is no teacher/aide created art. I've been so much more excited and proud of her when she comes home with a scribbly circle with some dots, to which the teacher has added only arrows and words to show what Samantha has claimed to have drawn.

Melissa M said...

While Claire is a long way from art projects, I will insist that what comes home is *hers*! Great post!