As the mother of a child who was born unexpectedly with Down syndrome our lives have changed in many ways and one is the way we teach our child. He doesn’t learn in the way that a typical child learns. He has to be shown how to do something several times with much reinforcement. In addition, nothing just comes naturally to him. Sitting up took a lot of work and practice, rolling over, standing, crawling, everything that is second nature to a typical child takes a lot of effort on the part of a child with Down syndrome. Because I do not have much experience educating any child much less one with Down syndrome we have chosen to put Eli in a school that is made up of children who mostly have Down syndrome. There they know how to achieve break throughs and how to help someone with Down syndrome reach goals at a better pace.
Going to this school requires sacrifices from each family member. I always intended to be a stay at home mother but the expense of this school has required me to take on a part time job (which I am happy to do). It requires 2 hours a day in the car for our son with Down syndrome to get to and from his school. It requires my husband to work harder to help pick up parts of the school bill that my job does not cover and it keeps our oldest 6 year old from being able to do many things in the evening because we have to be home and in bed early to make it for our early morning school commute. All of this to say that this school is worth it, the sacrifice and money we feel are well invested.
For the rest of our son’s life he will be required to try harder than any typical classmate. He will have to put more effort in and not get as far. He will always have a harder time to learn anything he has to learn. But, our plan is to let him learn at his own pace but push him a little further than he’s willing to push himself. To never let him feel he isn’t worthy of the best education out there. And to always help him to become the best version of himself that he can be.
Nobody sets out to have a child who will have special needs. Nobody wants the added expense and the frustration of everything being so much harder for your child. It is challenging in a way that you can’t understand until you have been there. But it is also rewarding. To see your child reach a milestone you didn’t even know existed before him makes it all the more special and all the more exhilarating. We love our son just the way he is. I wouldn’t have him in any other way. But, if he would have come with a manual and a little savings account we would have been very gracious.