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Shattering the Myths

It was once assumed, in the not so distant past, that children with Down syndrome were destined to learn very little and reach adulthood in need of significant financial, personal and social supports to live out their lives in dependence.  Over the past three decades, this image has been shattered by the quiet success of a contingent of young adults with Down syndrome who drive cars, have gainful employment, pay taxes, marry and live independently.  Right behind them are the high school students studying Algebra, playing musical instruments, and participating on cheer squads and swim teams.  My son is in this category.

Coming next are a group of elementary students who had more extensive speech therapy, more teachers expecting them to learn and more opportunity than ever. The next ten years will tell us more about this group and their adult living situations. Finally, as we provide the first comprehensive positive information for families of today's new babies, the next wave of persons with Down syndrome will be exciting to watch. Will most of them participate in regular schools? Will 10% go on to higher education? Will we look back at this time as an outdated era? I rather doubt it, but I know we will look upon these young people as future earners, future drivers, future tax payers and a part of our neighborhood. We may employ them, teach them, live next door to them, go to church with them and golf with them. They will be integral parts of our communities. They will be part of us!

Now that we have dispelled some myths, it is time to look at how to get the education, which is so essential to combating these and other myths. Let's look at the basic tools of the educational system and decide how to make them work for your child.


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