Kids With Down Syndrome: Middle School
My son is, at last, leaving elementary school. He is ready, and so am I. But middle school? That's scary stuff. And it's even more scary for us because our son has Down syndrome. I feel like we're sending him off to a big, unforgiving, potentially mean place, especially compared to the sweet, nurturing atmosphere of elementary school.
He has been included in the regular classroom to this point, but in middle school we conceded to putting him in a separate classroom for much of the day. It just seemed like the easiest/safest thing to do—to insulate him from the fast-paced, not-so-friendly world of hormone-crazed adolescents.
But is it the right thing? We've fought so hard to keep him included at school, and he has done so well. His classmates in elementary school were awesome—so supportive and accepting of him. Being in the classroom has taught him so much—not only about academics but about friendships, pop culture, how to flirt and the all-important how to be cool. At his graduation from elementary school in June, so many parents came up to us and said, "We just love your son, we're so proud of him and we're so glad he was part of this class."
Now he'll be in a classroom with a small group of other kids—all with disabilities. Maybe here he will make real friends—ones that invite him to birthday parties and for sleepovers. Maybe he won't feel so different all the time. Maybe at last he will find the girlfriend he wants so badly.
That's my hope. That's how I reassure myself when I wake up fretting, wondering if I made the right decision for him.