It's here you guys!!! It's the first day of kindergarten and I'll be honest, I've been dreaming/dreading/anticipating this day for 5.5 years for this little love bug. If you're new to the page - Logan has Down syndrome. It's not a bad thing, it's just a thing.
The day he was born, our world changed. Not a bad changes, just a different course than we thought we were on. You have all of these hopes and dreams for this tiny baby and with just one additional chromosome, they all get blurred. What will he BE if he has an intellectual disability? Who will his friends be if he is always .... 'different'. What does it mean for the course of our otherwise typical family?
The one question that has always been there was school. You see, we have always had plans for our boys to attend the Catholic schools that my husband went to. Could we still do that? Would he go to school with his brothers? Would we have one in the public schools and 3 in the private schools and how does THAT work? Would they not go to the same assemblies? Watch the same football games? Have different proms???
Education has made some dramatic shifts in the last 20 years for students with disabilities and I am forever grateful for those parents that have walked before us, but we aren't done yet. It's getting more and more common that students with disabilities are included in the classroom. They aren't pulled out to all sit in a room together and learn less. They are in every classroom learning next to their peers. They may learn differently. They may learn at a different pace. They may need accommodations to make that learning happen, but they are not so different from everyone else.
I want my son to be prepared for a life in the real world. One that loves him for who he is and the talents that he has. A world that supports his dreams to work and be productive and contribute in his own way.
Today is a big, big day. Not just because it's kindergarten, but because it's inclusive kindergarten at our Catholic school. A school that hasn't supported a child with Down syndrome in 20 years, and has never had a child with Down syndrome included in the classroom.
We have been working really hard to get this in place. To teach the staff that Down Sydrome is a thing, but it's not who he is. Down syndrome is a disability that Logan wears on his face. Everyone can see it loud and clear and a whole lot of assumptions are made from that first glace. And really, don't be embarassed if you have judged someone based on that look, I think we all have.
It wasn't until I had a child with Down syndrome that I realized the possibilities. He's just a kid. He's just a kid that wants to learn his letters and numbers and how to read and HE CAN! He takes a little longer and we may need some different strategies, but he can learn and he will.
Today is so, so big. We are starting our journey - Logan's first day in a school where he doesn't have paras and therapists in the room with him all day. He's independent. Thanks to a great early childhood program he can hang up his backpack, turn in his papers and sit on the carpet without help. He can pick out his name from a list and he can tell you how to spell it. He knows most of his letters and numbers and while he can't tell you everythig in crisp, clear sentences - he can tell you just what he needs and wants.
We are grateful for the support of the staff, our parents, our friends, Logan's classmates and everyone at St. Peter School. Today Logan starts school with his brothers, every day. He'll be a part of the grandparents day concert. He'll be at the Friday spirit day assemblies. He'll go to mass with them on Wednesdays. He will no longer be different. He'll stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with his peers and be one with them. Today is a day that my fear of the unknown becomes the sight of the future in our education. Inclusion in the Catholic schools. We're more alike than different.