A few of us from my local Down syndrome society Moms group met at a park this morning. We didn’t actually have any of our kids who have Down syndrome with us, but we all have younger children who socialize while we chat. We usually have lots to discuss about schooling, therapists, doctors, and the like.
Towards the end of our playdate when it was just me and one other mom, two high school students and their para-educator (aide) came outside to swing. The high school is next to the playground, and it is the school Kyle will attend down the line. When I saw that one boy had Down syndrome, I walked towards them and smiled when their aide looked up at me. I kept standing there looking at them, and figured he was starting to get uncomfortable so I had better say something.
“Are you from the high school?” I asked to get the conversation going. He said yes, and I continued, “my friend and I both have a child with Down syndrome.” His face lit up. “People with Down syndrome are THE BEST. I love working with them. I have a cousin with Down syndrome.”
Then he told me that because of the long class times, they came outside to take a sensory break. It would have been easy for me to assume that the high school isn’t challenging the students and just lets them swing half the day. But it turns out they are just very accommodating to the needs of their students. Within a few minutes, they were heading back inside.
There was an even smaller moment within this small moment that spoke to me. Most of the time it seemed like the boy with Down syndrome wasn’t paying much attention to his aide. Yet at one point when he was strolling around him, the boy with Down syndrome casually placed his hand on his aide’s shoulder, as if to say, “I like you, and you’re doing a great job.”
The encounter led my friend and I into a discussion about the many people we know who have gone into the field of Special Education because they have a sibling or cousin with Down syndrome. It’s one more piece of evidence in favor of people with Down syndrome enhancing the lives of those around them, supported by one little gesture from a boy to his teacher.