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Education Task Force
Parents of School Age Children
The MDSC's long awaited manual, Meaningful Inclusion for Students with Down Syndrome - a Resource Guide for Elementary Educators, a long-term project by the MDSC's Education Task Force, provides a comprehensive look at the complex learning profile of students with Down syndrome, as well as providing information around best practices and educational considerations that are based upon research-proven best practices.
From the Introduction:
More and more students with Down syndrome are being included in general education classrooms every day because of special education laws that fully recognize the benefits of an inclusive education for all students.
Educators and parents are seeing first-hand that the inclusive classroom can provide a successful learning environment in which all students thrive and succeed. In fact, research in Britain has shown that students with Down syndrome achieve higher success when they are educated with general education students.
Not too long ago many educators believed that individuals with Down syndrome could not learn to read, write, or do mathematics. Regrettably, these students were not given the opportunity to learn. Fortunately, times have changed, and doors have opened. With higher expectations, access to the general education curriculum, interaction with general education students, and appropriate supports, students with Down syndrome have demonstrated that they will make significant progress. Today, many students with Down syndrome pursue post-secondary education, meaningful employment and independent living opportunities.
Some teachers may initially be apprehensive about including students with Down syndrome into their general education classrooms. Experience shows, however, that most teachers have the skills to understand the individual needs of students with Down syndrome and are able to teach them effectively and reflectively.
We encourage you to take what you already know, understand the “typical” learning profile of a student with Down syndrome, combine it with the information and resources in our guide, and create a useful, individual program for your own student(s).
As Michael Giangreco, PhD, University of Vermont, says, “A big part of successful inclusion is a matter of applying the knowledge and skills you already possess to a new situation.” We expect that there may be difficulties, but we also expect that the rewards will greatly outnumber and outshine the challenges.
Rosalie Forster and Betsy Pelz
To purchase the book, click here.
What the Experts are Saying....
“Many medical conditions--such as Celiac disease, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism--can directly impact the education of students with Down syndrome. Sometimes, teachers are the first to notice the symptoms, and, oftentimes, they are an important part of the solutions!”– Dr. Brian Skotko, Co-Director, MassGeneral Hospital Down Syndrome Program
"Technology has changed the way we live and, most importantly, the way children learn. Affordable handheld devices and specialized apps offer once unimaginable opportunities to adapt educational curriculum and support every child’s specific needs. Personalized technology-enabled education can now speak to every child and lift their hopes and aspirations to achieve his or her full potential.”– Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President & Treasurer of MIT
“Data collection and progress monitoring are essential to make sure that we are making instructional decisions on a student’s performance, rather than feelings or impressions.”– Gina D’Addario, Special Education Team Chair, Needham Public Schools
“Spelling with or without supports helps students convey their thoughts, ideas and knowledge. This makes spelling an essential skill.”– Cynthia Levine, Education, Inclusion & Behavior Consultant and Assistive Technology Specialist
“As an education researcher working for CAST where Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was developed, I’ve seen the benefits of aligning the curriculum with the reality that in every classroom learners differ enormously from one another. As a parent of an infant with Down syndrome I now personally understand why it is important for my daughter Jane’s unique approaches to learning and living in the world to be considered as a valuable asset in the classroom.”– Sam Catherine Johnston, Ed.D.
“If the child isn’t learning, the method of instruction must change.”– Julie Messina, Program Director, 3-21 Foundation
“It is often said, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ As an educator I know communication with families must be embraced well beyond the focus of informing. We need to engage parents as partners with a collaborative focus on the growth and development of the whole child.”– Susan McCullen, M.Ed., Early Childhood Teacher, Grafton Public Schools