In the past weeks since Sam has started school, I’ve noticed a lot of kids looking at him with curiosity, and I’ve heard a couple of kids pointing him out to their parents. I’ve also heard a couple of parents talking about him.
I can’t say that any of this was negative, necessarily. I was only hearing pieces of conversation, and in the case of the adults it may have been a completely benign conversation that just happened to include “that blonde boy with Down syndrome.”
But still, I find it bothers me a bit to know that people are talking about Sam without really knowing him. With the kids, I know they may never have seen another person with Down syndrome or an intellectual disability, and they’re curious. And they try to talk to Sam, but he doesn’t really respond. But then I got to thinking, it may be similar for the adults—many of them may not have much experience with people with intellectual disabilities.
So, I decided the best way to stop people talking about Sam without knowing him was to let them get to know him. And I made up a “meet Sam” flyer to distribute to the parents at his school. I figure that way, if their kids come home asking questions about “the little boy named Sam who doesn’t talk,” the parents will have a little guide to help them understand Sam so they can talk to their kids about him.
I emailed it to the principal, the inclusion specialist, and Sam’s teacher, and they all think it’s a good idea. We’re figuring out logistics for how to distribute it (our school is huge!), but hopefully we’ll be able to do that next week, when Down Syndrome Awareness Month kicks off.
So anyway, if you’re curious, here’s what I came up with. I used Canva, which is a free web-based program. Once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy to navigate!
(Excuse the blur on the second line. I didn’t want to publicly broadcast Sam’s teacher’s name, just for privacy purposes for both her and Sam.)