I have heard the stories from other families who tried to sign their child with a disability up for a class (gymnastics, music, dance, etc) or even preschool – and have been met with a deer-in-the-headlight look. They have been given a myriad of excuses of why they can’t accept their child in this class or that preschool. They have been turned down or made to feel like there is no way it could work.
I’m thankful that, knock on wood, to date this has not been our experience.
Kayla hasn’t done a lot of extra activities but for the few things we have done, there haven’t been any issues with me signing Kayla up for a typical class.
A few years ago Kayla took a ballet class at the YMCA with her best friend (who also has Down syndrome). It was a small class, I think only about 5 girls. But there was never any hesitation about Kayla and her friend having Down syndrome and being in this class.
Last year I brought Kayla on base to participate in the Missoula Children’s Theater. We showed up for auditions like everyone else. I didn’t call ahead of time to ask if there would be any issues with Kayla having Down syndrome. The only thing I asked them to do after watching the first rehearsal was to slow down one of her sentences because her speech isn’t as fast as her peers. They had no problem with that.
I again brought her on base last week for another Missoula Children’s Theater production, and again, we just showed up with the intention of participating.
She took a drama camp this summer with Creative Spark for the Arts and again, I had no problem signing her up for this camp. There wasn’t any hesitation on their part with having Kayla participate in the 2-week camp.
I think it’s important for Kayla to participate in a wide range of activities that involved her peers with and without disabilities. It’s important for her to attend the summer camps that are just for people with disabilities so she is amongst peers that are alike her in that way – and it is just as important for her to be accepted, included, and involved in events and camps and classes that aren’t disability-specific and to be with her peers who don’t have disabilities.
My Golden Moments have been watching her participate, flourish, and make friends in both of these types of environments … and to have something that I don’t have to advocate for her to be included in.
She’s just there – involved like anyone else. And that, to me, is a Golden Moment.
— Written by Michelle, author of Big Blueberry Eyes and parent of two. Michelle Helferich is mom to Kayla, 11, and Lucas, 7. Kayla has Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), ADHD, and Celiac disease. She works part-time as a BabyNet Parent Connection with Family Connection of SC. Michelle’s been blogging at Big Blueberry Eyes since 2006 and was a 2013 finalist in About.com Readers’ Choice Favorite Special Needs Parenting Blog. See her original “Golden Moments” post here!