I am also THANKFUL to another group of women that play such an important role in Landon's life. And today, I think they deserve recognition, and I would like to share with all of you.........their continuous acts of kindness!
I often speak very highly of Landon's EI team (who I blog about on many occasions). Landon continues to make great strides in many different areas. I will be sharing his latest with you all shortly. I'm working on those posts (which are now drafts), SO, I am getting there. Again, too much to do/say.....so little time=( Landon's therapists continue to see him at "school" and the staff at his school have been very open to having them there. And today, this is the new group of women that have me feeling THANKFUL!
Since Landon has been going to "school" full time (since September) he has been making GREAT gains, rather quickly! I know that this will not ALWAYS be the case, but right now, IT IS!! And I could not be happier! Landon's therapists see him for 1 hour every day while he is at school (4 days a week). They have really been trying to work with Landon during the days regular activities, alongside his peers. But the important piece in all of this is that Landon's teachers are all actively taking part in learning about each of his therapies. This way they can continue to work with Landon for the rest of the day/week.
You see, Landon is the first child with Down syndrome to attend this "school". Looking for a daycare for your child is a very stressful task. Looking for a daycare for your child with special needs is stressful x10!! Scott & I decided to send Landon to this school, just like his older brothers. Yes, even though they were not experienced in teaching children with Down syndrome. I guess coming from a family of educators, Scott & I share a true belief in "INCLUSION". There is a part of me that feels that because this school had never taught a child with Down syndrome, they didn't have any preconceived notion or outdated information barriers. They take things one day at a time and allow Landon to lead the way. He does everything that his peers do, and they make accommodations where they are needed, giving Landon the opportunity to reach his fullest potential. And when they are unsure of something, they communicate with me, Landon's EI staff and accept the opportunity to attend workshops to educate themselves.
Last week, Landon's OT, was hosting an "Including Samuel" workshop. She invited myself and the staff at Landon's school to attend and to say a few words on our experience with inclusion. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend that evening (but I have had the opportunity to attend an "Including Samuel" workshop in the past). I did however send a letter (of our experience with Landon and his daycare) that was read following the viewing, to a room full of "mostly" educators. Not quite the same as being there in person, but still having the opportunity to help spread awareness. It was such an inspiring documentary that really gave me HOPE for Landon. I am happy to say that 5 staff members from Landon's school attended this workshop.......on a Tuesday evening, for 2 hours......on their own time!! A very special "thank you" to Melissa for sharing her thoughts on inclusion too!! These women continue to go above and beyond........ EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!! Ever since Landon started going to this school, they have opened their doors and their hearts to our little boy. They have taken interest in learning about Landon, Down syndrome, and any technique or strategy to help him reach his fullest potential.
I am painfully aware that this concern for Landon may not be shared at each level of his educational experience. But right now, we have that! This part of our journey (20 months in) has been very good to us. I am grateful to have this positive experience so early...........because I have been given the opportunity to see the positive outcomes of inclusion, on a daily basis. It does work. And it can be done. The key is communication between all parties involved in our children's care accompanied by the belief that inclusion does and can work.
THANK YOU to the staff at Hawthorn Hill Preschool for believing in Landon and all his possibilities. For not only attending the "Including Samuel" workshop, but for making accommodations for Landon when needed, showing interest in his therapy sessions, for taking the initiative in learning sign language (through the Signing Time DVDs) to communicate with Landon and for passing that knowledge on to his peers so that he can truly feel like he IS included.
The impact that you have on your students is powerful!! You are opening the door to an inclusive education for so many others (with different abilities) that will follow in Landon's path. And you are exposing others to the world of differently abled people. For your willing effort to help spread awareness, we are forever grateful. I can assure you, that you will help to ease the fears of many parents who may be at the beginning of their "journey into the unknown". Landon is lucky to have each and every one of you!
THANK YOU for accepting Landon as he is and for loving him none the less.