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OVEČKA, o.p.s.
Down Syndrom
Opinions
Beyond doubt it is better for our children when their parents take them everywhere one would normally take a child, i.e. when visiting family or friends, to the playground among other children, to the theatre, to the cinema, to the swimming pool, to the shops, etc., and invite friends to join you on holiday, whether or not they have children…. In short, we should try to lead an absolutely normal life with them. Our children learn particularly by imitation, so it would not be kind of us to cut them off from the world around them. Our children’s generation is most likely one that will be chiefly paving the way for future generations. By and large people react with embarrassment when they learn that a baby with DS has been born to friends of theirs. But it is important to help them: friends will be relieved if we talk openly about everything involved with the DS diagnosis. After all, none of us want our friends to show false sympathy or to pretend that nothing has happened. Something has happened! Our little girl or boy will need lots of care and love. But that goes without saying! Nevertheless rearing our child is going to call for a lot of hard work, patience and consistency – in spite of the temptation to take things easy and let things simply take their course. That latter option is out of the question, or almost. Like all children, those with DS need to make the most of the time that has been granted to us from their birth until they start school. Consequently mother of DS children tend to be not only a safe and loving refuge, they are also teachers from morning to night. But then when the little person starts to count and read and become a partner of the family, when he or she wants to help and to please you, and learns to recognise right from wrong, you can be justly proud of this child, who, just a few years ago, would have automatically been considered uneducable

☻ integration at school

It should be a matter of course for our child to attend a regular nursery school. If our children have learnt to do as they are told at home, there should be no problem integrating them in the school without any need for an assistant. There have been a number of such cases in our association. However, in practice, not every nursery-school head teacher has the courage to adopt this approach and the option of using an assistance is chosen. In all events, it is essential for children with DS to attend an ordinary nursery school.

Regarding primary schooling, unlike in the period prior to 1989, today’s parents have to option to choose either a primary school of the regular kind or a special school. It is true that teachers and school principals still have reservations about assigning our child to a regular primary-school class. It is therefore necessary to look for a suitable school, i.e. the right principal and class teacher, well before our child is due to start primary school. Recommendations for a child’s admission to a primary school are obtained either from a psychologist at either a special pedagogical centre (SPC) or at a pedagogical and psychological centre (PPP). DS children at a regular primary school usually follow a special individual curriculum, usually with the help of a teaching assistant (who works as directed by the teaching staff with the child or with the rest of the class), or a personal assistant (who is entirely at the child’s disposal). The school co-operates with the SPC or PPP with which the child is registered. Naturally the collaboration of teachers, teaching assistants and parents is required in drawing up the child’s curriculum, and the SPC or PPP is also ready to assist. The curriculum can be varied in the course of the school year.

Children with DS have great social ability and they are able to acquire models of behaviour at a regular primary school that they would not acquire elsewhere. For our children, being educated along with children who have no handicap is an ideal preparation for life. This is why more and more parents of children with DS wish to place their children in a regular primary school .

The alternative is a special school where the child will be educated according to the curriculum of a special or remedial school. These schools can also have special remedial classes for children with serious mental handicap. The advantage can be smaller classes, attentive teaching, and a slower pace. In theory these schools should be well equipped with teaching aids. However, overall the ideal solution is to place DS children among their peers who have no handicap WHEREVER THIS IS AT ALL POSSIBLE.

Every school is different, just like every human individual. This is particularly true as regards the personal maturity of principals and teachers, and their courage and readiness to make a real effort and adopt a creative approach to instructing and teaching children with differing needs. It is not yet possible - FOR THE TIME BEING we hope – for DS children to be integrated into regular primary schools in every town. As a result some parents commute long distances to schools in other areas. What is essential for our children is that they should find themselves in surroundings where they are accepted and respected. As a result parents seek not just the right school but, above all the right teacher. That teacher might be at a primary school, but equally at a special school. A teacher with an individual approach, whether in a regular or a special school is capable of creating an excellent environment for the children; they are willing to look for the best methods to convey the knowledge and skills to the children. The parents’ co-operation with the teacher is a matter of course, just as it is with the doctor when their child is ill. Not everyone is a doctor; likewise not every parent is a born teacher and so is glad to receive guidance from an experienced pedagogue.