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The education dilemma

Posted in Attitudes to disability, Learning disability, Personal by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on May 22, 2009

The Guardian has published another interesting article about Down’s syndrome, this time about the question of inclusion within mainstream schools.

According to the article mainstream schools are increasingly demonstrating reluctance to make the necessary arrangements to help include children with Down’s syndrome.

“The Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (Ipsea)… which gives legal advice to parents whose children have special needs or disabilities, says three times as many children with Down’s syndrome have been refused a statement of special educational needs in mainstream schools this year compared with last.”

The issue of inclusion has been on our minds recently after the matter was covered in Channel 4’s Born to be Different, which follows the lives of a number of children with disabilities.

The most recent update saw the parents of a boy with Down’s syndrome realising that at the age of nine his learning difficulties were such that perhaps it would be best for him and his ongoing social life, to be educated in the future in a school that is specifically designed for his educational needs.

That decision matched with our early thoughts about our hopes for G’s education. Depending on his abilities we would like him to be included in mainstream education for as long as seems appropriate. However, if there were signs that he would be happier in a ‘special school’ as and when the delays in his education become more pronounced I would have no problems in making that change.

That is not an attitude shared by all parents of children with Down’s syndrome it would be appear. In the Guardian report one girl’s parents have reluctantly given up their “moral crusade for inclusion” in the face of reluctance to provide her with occupational and speech and language therapy.

While I would currently disagree with the idea that a child’s educational requirements should be the subject of a “moral crusade” it would also, unfortunately, seem that it is getting increasingly difficult to have the choice to include a child with Down’s syndrome.

Gillian Bird, director of education and information at Down Syndrome Education International, says more children with the chromosome disorder are being told they don’t need speech and language therapy, according to the Guardian, while Bob Black, education information officer of the Down’s Syndrome Association, says that ensuring that occupational therapy is on a child’s statement has become “increasingly difficult”.

“Schools are digging their heels in,” Black says. “We are getting the sense that schools, already overburdened with work, are feeling they have enough on their plates and don’t want to make adjustments for this group of children as well.”

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2 Responses

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  1. rickismom said, on May 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

    What a shame that exactly in England , where there is such good information, things are hard. Here in Israel, I am entitles to 2 hours a week of therapy for Ricki, BUT the school has no therapist……..

  2. starrlife said, on May 22, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Well, as an entitled American I am truly appalled! I agree with you re: meeting the child where it’s needs are best met and not getting all ideological but so far, for my daughter she gets alot from reaching up towards her typical peers and is an important part of the community. I think there would be another revolution here if the schools started to do what your saying though!


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