As I have stated in an earlier post, I have a 10-year-old Son with Down syndrome. Educating a child with an intellectual disability is an enormous undertaking and responsibility. This is especially true if the parents choose an inclusion approach. The inclusion model (a parental option protected by federal laws) integrates the child into a regular classroom environment with other typical students and is taught standard state mandated curriculum. What sets the criteria and establishes the goals for a given academic year is a document called the Individualized Education Program (or IEP). To pull all this off requires a team of parents, educators, and specialists who need to “think outside the box”.
When I think about this level of dedication, I always think about a marathon runner who was born without a leg. It’s a very crude analogy, but it works for me. It helps me visualize and clarify what my resolve is as a parent when things are not going well with my Son’s education. If a runner with a disability is determined to race, he will do so. With all the medical technology available to him he will find the right prosthetic to replace his missing limb. He will train harder than his competitors will. When others dismiss him, he will ignore them and continue his preparations. He will run the race the best he can. He might not finish first, but will finish all 26 miles. It’s not his fault he was born without a leg. It’s just the way God created him. You make the best of it and never give up. You go the distance because its worth it. We will never give up on our Son no matter what anyone says. He’s a smart little guy and I know we will all finish the race the best we can, despite what the critics say. As his parents, we owe it to him to go the distance.
More information on the IDEA can be found here.