Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome


Directly in the opening of this chapter, Kliewer has a quote given by a student on her feelings about being in a segregated classroom because of her down syndrome, "'I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special ed almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, I wanted to cry." (Kliewer, 1)
-This quote set the mood for the chapter. The minute I read it, I began to feel for the student. She was never allowed to pick what she wanted. She was never allowed to challenge herself. Mia, the student, got by with what others thought that she could handle and she never had an option. Even though students with down syndrome might have struggles with their school work, it should be up to them as to what classes they feel they can handle. This quote is an example of what most students with down syndrome have had to face their entire life and school career.

Right after Kliewer gives Mia's story, he gives another quote by Jason Kingsley, "'Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of stereotypes and break barriers for people with disablities." (Kliewer, 1)
-This quote sets up this idea for the following topics. The idea is how do we get rid of the negative attitude? In my opinion, Kingsley is right. People with developemental disabilities should have every opportunity available to them and they should be allowed to decide for themselves. The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about different things that challenge people with down syndrome.

My last quote comes from the last part of the chapter. "It is instead a web of dynamic, constantly shifting relationships that encompass the individual with Down Syndrome and all other human beings." (Kliewer,  13)
-I found this quote to be a great way to sum up the reading. This quote is talking about school citizenship and community. It is saying that like everything else in life, it will always be changing. As more people obtain knowledge of people with Down Syndrome, they will grow and change to see that those children are able to make their own decisions, relationships will change between eachother and maybe those negative attitudes that were once present, will become a thing of the past.

This weeks reading meant a lot to me because I have a cousin with Down Syndrome. My cousin Katie lives 822 miles away from me and yet no matter how much time goes by, I can pick up the phone, call her and it is as if I have missed nothing in her life. The last time I saw Katie was in 2003. At that time, she was beginning her freshman year in high school. The only thing was, Katie wasn't going to graduate with her friends at the age of 18, she was going to have to stay back for at least an extra 2-3 years until the school felt like she was ready to graduate. She was put in a classroom with other students who had develpomental disabilities and there they would work on the school levels that each child was at in their life. At the time, to me it seemed like a good idea, my cousin wouldn't be around the students who would tease her and she would be able to learn at a grade level that she needed. It wasn't until I reached high school that I realized what they did to her was wrong. In my high school, we too have a classroom for students with developmental disabilites. The only difference is that the teacher in that classroom brings the children into other classrooms every day in order to incorporate them with other students and to make it a learning experience for everyone. The students in the ALP classrooms are given tasks and jobs, such as running the school store, so they are able to interact with other people and they can learn everyday skills like counting money and taking inventory. This way of learning and intergrating all students with eachother is what my cousin needed but never recieved because back then, no one believed that is what we should do. Because my cousin was never intergrated, she was a home-body. She has finally graduated high school and now works at a nursing home where she is in an enviornment with people who won't judge her or make her feel bad about herself. But what if she had recieved a different education, one where she was allowed to pick what she wanted and where she was introduced to other people? Would she still be a home-body? What many people don't realize is that anyone who has Down Syndrome is just as much like you and me, the only difference is they learn at a slower rate. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition where you are born with 47 chromosomes instead of 46. The extra chromosome is another copy of chromosome 21. Another common name for Down Syndrome is Trisomy 21 (a name for the extra copy of chromosome 21). There are plenty of websites that further explain what Down Syndrome is and what symptoms are caused by this. One website that will give info is :

Here is a video froom youtube that has Mia Peterson (the girl who gave my first quote in Kliewers piece) in it!!!! I hope this video helps everyone to see that people with Down Syndrome are just like us.


  1. I am so sorry you weren't hooked up before! I don't know how i missed your address. Hope everyone will give you some feedback since you haven't had any readers up until now!!

  2. I really like that you put what Down Syndrome really is. Some people dont know what it really is. I also think its great that your cousin has a job now. I would with a few people with Down Syndrome and some with Autism and i think that its great that they can have a job where no one is going to judge them and have a feeling of accomplishment.

  3. I agree with Amanda 100%! Most people have no clue what down syndrome is, including me. It is great that you can share your experiences with us and then be able to take these experiences into your classroom.

  4. I agree as well. I also liked how you included the story about your cousin at the end. It's horrible that schools don't integrate the students, even if it is only for one class period a day or whatever. It makes the person with Down Syndrome or any other disability feel more confident and feel wanted, like they should be. No child should be kept in one room all day long. That's not fair. Also, it helps the other students learn about that disability and learn that it is NOT okay to make fun of people. Great post.

  5. Those were some good quotes. And I like how you introduced your cousin into this as well. Sometimes I think we need to hear a name and know that this is more personal than just saying "children with Down Syndrome".
    That story you told is a powerful one. Something more people need to realize.

  6. I really liked reading about your cousin as well! I feel integrating is SO important because it also expose people to diversity so there wouldn't be so much ignorance and prejudice. I feel that I was always afraid almost of people with disabilities because I was never exposed to it. If I was around it on a regular basis I would have never even thought to segregate and judge. I don't feel that segregation is natural, I think it is taught to us probably thru tracking and it needs to stop for everyone's benefit. We ALL can learn from one another.
    So glad we can read your blog now! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. I really liked your quotes. In particular your first and second because they really hit on the key things that I got out of the article. Also, the story about your cousin is a great personal example of how education affects those with disabilities. I heard you talk about it in class today when we were in small groups and it just really opened my eyes because I never really looked around my high school to see how everyone was educated. I know we had groups and classes but until this class I never really understood all the bad things that happen.

  8. I really enjoyed reading your blog this week. I like the story about your cousin in the end. It's so sad to hear about how students with developmental disabilities are treated. I know that in my high school we would have a student with a developmental disability but they would have a teacher aid with them as well. I thought this was very helpful for them because they always had someone by their side. But they also had their own classroom but still the fact that they were allowed to go into "normal" classrooms was a great experience for them and they got to do what they wanted to do.