An Uncomplicated Life: Early education is vital

Jillian and I en route to Minneapolis, where we spoke at the Gigi’s Playhouse Gala
We’ve developed a virtual/social media friendship with a soon-to-be-father of a child with Down syndrome. Mike and his wife are doing well getting things rolling. Here’s a question he had, and my wife Kerry’s answer:
I actually have a meeting with the Chief of Staff for our local public school system next week, and I want to be sure I go in prepared to ask thoughtful questions about how they handle Special Education, integration, placement, etc. etc. I’ve spoken to other parents, but with children with other types of disabilities (i.e. autism) so I didn’t want to presume each “need” was the same. 
Any pointers on what to generally try and get a better handle on, so I make the best use of our time together? 
Kerry: First of all. I applaud you for being prepared.  Knowledge is so empowering.  You are so right when you say that other children’s needs are not going to be the same as yours.  I always made sure to refer to the IEP, where the I stands for individual . Each student is an individual.
On the other hand, it is obviously too early to know your child’s specific needs. Your questions will have to be more general at this meeting.  You will want to know what services they provide for Early Intervention. What age will these services start?  See if they have an inclusive preschool available and ask to observe it at some point.

You could ask about their philosophy on special education and how they implement inclusion in their classrooms.  However, I would suggest you not get too bogged down with the details of school-age issues.  You really don’t know what your child will need in school yet.  Plus, things are always changing with inclusion and schools.  What you observe today might be greatly improved in 5 years when your daughter starts school.

At this point, you need to know what they offer for Early Intervention, speech, OT or PT.  Ask them to tell you what they will need in order to be prepared for your child’s attendance.
Good luck.
Kerry Daugherty
My thanks to Ohio Public Images, a state organization devoted to promoting positive images of people with developmental disabilities. They gave me an award for An Uncomplicated Life. I was proud and grateful, and I told them what I say here, with every post:
1. Expect Don’t Accept.
2. See, Don’t Look.
3. Live in the Moment.
4. We’re only as good as the way we treat each other.
Thanks as always, Paul

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