Nightly News ran this segment this evening. Child Model with Down syndrome Inspires Thousands.
My heart sank during this piece.
The message…..the Normalcy of Difference. That people with Down syndrome are included….amongst their peers [or at least in print on the pages of advertising] and one would hope in real life, and that it is no big deal…as they are part of the whole and the silent message sent by these types of ads will allow in time for society to embrace people of difference without thought or effort to be included.
In my perfect world, they are included. Period.
But the message was not that in this segment, when they showed Ryan and announced that he attends a school for children with Down syndrome.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the school, Stepping Stones, as it is in my state [and I have even gone to look at it for Emma Sage, because our former special education director insisted that children like my daughter are better off with children who are just like her...so I went to say I went.] and I have friends whose children attend the school and love it for their children. My vent is not about their choice.......it is completely about the MESSAGE of Inclusion [and to think that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.....how sad that segregation still occurs in this day in age, not based on color, but by disability]
But this one moment, this one small segment of this new piece does more damage than I think others realize, because it highlighted segregation based on the diagnosis of Down syndrome.
It was NOT the mention that Ryan attends school with his twin brother Ian, or that Ryan attends his neighborhood school…..or even better yet, he attends a private school or a charter school….But of a school specifically for children with Down syndrome.
My heart sank…..thinking of all the parents [me included] who have fought for years to have their child with Down syndrome be included with their peers in their community school.
This is not a debate or even a discussion....it was just my heavy heart sighing........