Saturday, October 2, 2010

Expect. Don't Accept

I awoke on Thursday morning to an email in my Inbox that contained a link to a keynote speech delivered by Paul Daugherty in 2009 at the Remarkable Families Symposium. You can take a few moments to read it here - it is truly inspiring!

In the speech, Paul spoke of his daughter Jillian, who was born with Down syndrome and was 19 at the time of his speech. He spoke of her impressive accomplishments such as performing in the school play, managing the school volleyball team, participating on the junior varsity dance team that entertains at halftimes of basketball games and holding the school record in her weight class for the bench press, the dead lift and the squat.

He went on to state that Jillian once had a special ed teacher who sat in an IEP meeting with him and his wife, stating that Jillian was incapable of learning. Other teachers didn't now how to teach her so they just didn't. Throughout their journey however, they have been guided by one thought: Expect. Don't accept.

Ironically, on Thursday afternoon I received a telephone call from a teacher who said she works with children who are mostly non-verbal, many of whom have Down syndrome. She questioned me about skipping the part in eReadingPro where you introduce 12 names. Her logic for skipping the teaching of names was that "names mean nothing to these children". My response, after I picked my chin up off the floor, was "why not try?" She then replied with "trust me, I've worked with these children for some time now, and I know the names will not mean a thing to them". I was appalled , and persisted in trying to convince this woman that learning what their friends' names looked like would mean a great deal to the children she was working with. The heart-wrenching part was that she truly believed what she was saying! I should have asked this woman for her email address so that I could forward the link that I had received just that morning.

I will be sharing the message of 'Expect. Don't Accept' in my eReadingPro workshops. It is a powerful message that needs to be shared, over and over again!

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