Sunday, April 17, 2011

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

This week we had to read Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer.  The very first quote that caught my eye was right on the first page.  "I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education.  I had to go through 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." (Peterson, 1994, p.6)  After I read this quote it tore me into pieces.  This quote is basically saying that Mia has to take her special ed classes when in reality she also wants to take "normal classes".  I felt so bad for Mia because all she wanted to do was to be like her other classmates and take "normal classes".  She never had the choice what to take, she couldn't take anything that actually interested her, and she would always take the classes that she was suggested to take.  People only offered her the classes that they thought she could handle easily and she was never given a challenge.  Even though Mia does have a disability she should still be able to choose which classes she wants to take and she knows what classes she can handle.  I believe that students with disabilities should take their special education classes but they should also have the choice of which electives they want to take.  I think that if they were in a class with students who didn't have a disability then it would make them feel good about themselves and they would enjoy their education a lot more.

"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 the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities." (Kingsley, 1996, p.6)
This quote right here is saying that people need to realize that just because someone has a disability doesn't make them any different.  Some people just won't accept the fact and refuse to accept them for who they are.  The first line in this quote is very meaningful to me and I instantly thought of a boy named Jason McElwain.  For those of you who don't know Jason is an autistic boy who was a manager for his high school's basketball team.  For the last game of his senior year his coach decided to give him a uniform and let him sit on the bench with the team.  The gymnasium was packed with students that night because they had hear the exciting news for Jason.  During the game his coach put him in and he missed his first two shots but after that he hit six three pointers and one other basket for a total of 20 points for the night.  This story was all over the news, the radio, and now is on youtube.  So many of his classmates and team mates now look up to him because of this remarkable game he had.  The fans also stormed the court after the game and celebrated with Jason.  Jason has become so well known in the basketball world and later that year he even won an ESPY award in 2006 for best moment.  To win this award Jason had to beat out Kobe Bryant's 81 point game performance.  To me that is very impressive.  This story about Jason leads me back to the original quote because people need to realize that even though someone may have a disability they can still be role models and hero's for others and everyone just needs to throw away the negative stereotypes and realize that they aren't different.
Here is a video of Jason's story.

"We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is.  Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail." (Shayne, p.75)  This quote is a very strong and inspiring quote as well.  Here Shayne is trying to say that none of her students are different from her or as "defective".  She is there to help them, play together, work together, and to just teach them like any other teacher would.  She is also saying that just because these students have a disability doesn't mean that they are automatically fail.  Everyone is intelligent in some way and people need to realize that just because you have a disability doesn't mean that you are automatically going to fail.  Look at my previous example, Jason is now seen as a hero to everyone and he has been all over the news and even on espn!  To be honest with you I am quite jealous that Jason was on espn and he has met numerous basketball players.  Overall, people need to let these students do what they can do and be what they want to be.

Class Topics:  Has anyone ever heard of the Jason McElwain story?  I have a cousin who is Autistic and last year we started going to an Autism walk at Colt State Park and it was such an amazing experience to do.  There were thousands of other people who did this walk and to see all the support was pretty amazing.  Has anyone ever participated in any kind of event for any type of disability?

1 comment:

  1. I had never heard of Jason McElwain until I read your blog. that’s a pretty amazing story, really inspiring. To go off your Autism comment, my girlfriend’s little brother is autistic and honestly its not really apparent to me. He just seems really hyper and talks to himself a lot. Once her, her little brother, two older sisters, my friend, and I went to the movies and I didn’t tell my friend he was autistic. He didn’t even pick up on it. My girlfriend’s mom is also trying to start some fund raisers for autism like a polar plunge. But I digress, your blog was inspiring.