By Jennifer Perry
A few months ago, I posted on Facebook about how we received a formal complaint against my daughter, Anna, from another student at school. The principal called me into her office to inform me of what was going on and she reassured me that Anna was protected by her IEP and that she hadn’t done anything wrong. While meeting with the principal, I mentioned to her how I was thinking about asking Anna’s Gen Ed teacher to show a video called “Just like you” to inform the students about Down Syndrome.
With a friend’s help, I made a flyer for all the 4th-grade teachers to hand out to the students explaining who Anna was. We ended up going into three of the four 4th grade classrooms with Anna. We showed the video then had the kiddos go around and say what they liked about Anna and ask her questions. I am so very grateful that we did this as it helped educate the students about Down Syndrome, so they could understand it better. The things that students liked about Anna were amazing to hear.
Here are a few comments from 4th graders:
- Beautiful as a butterfly
- Helps Everybody
- Good friend
- Treats people nice
- Very smart
- Makes friends easily
- Inspirational that you’re always yourself (this is my favorite one)
One student said that they never knew what caused Down Syndrome. A few students asked Anna what it was like having Down Syndrome. Anna’s SpEd teacher responded back saying, “Well, it’s like asking you what it is like being you”!
The students were very interested in learning about Down Syndrome and this experience helped them understand it and Anna better. This mama now wants to reach out to other schools to have them educate students about Down Syndrome as well! It was important for me to share this story, as I wanted to share what it meant for us to turn a negative into a positive. As a result of educating all the 4th graders, even more students are saying “hi” to Anna in the halls and playing with her at recess.