The Harnisch Family

The Harnisch Family

Mar 17, 2011

2nd graders...Down Syndrome...Deedah

Reminder *** World Down Syndrome Day is coming up!  This Monday, 3.21.
(get it?  Trisomy 21 - which is the technical term for DS)  which means third copy of the 21st chromosome.

My friend Dana has two sons.  2nd Grader Reece and 4 year Old Evan.  Evan has Down Syndrome.  Reece is VERY proud of his baby brother.  This was evident by the HUGE smile on his face when he rounded the corner of Manchester elementary and was sooo excited to see Evan standing there.  There in HIS school.  Many of his classmates said "look it's Reece's brother"!  :-)  They were pumped to see him too!
Dana invited me and Macy to tag along as she introduces Evan to his big brother's class, explained and answered questions regarding his extra chromosome and showed them This Deedah and Me video.

Today was St. Patricks day, so I understood the green shirts.  But what was up with these kids' hair??  Oh, I later learned it also happened to be "crazy hair" day.  HA!  

We waited in the hallway for a few minutes before the teacher was ready for us.  And while we waited, a sweet young girl (who has Down Syndrome) was receiving one-on-one math help by a T.A. at a special desk out in the hallway/common area.  She was SOOOO adorable and very sweet.  She said hi to us, told us her name and asked what our names were.  She told me that Macy was cute  :-)  Plus, she spoke really crisp and clear, which I certainly thought was AWESOME!
Dana stood up in front of the class, with some notes she had prepared.  Evan was standing up there with her...or perhaps I should rephrase that...was "clowning around" up there with her.  He was a bit rambunctious and having a GOOD OLD time waving to everyone, so his big brother Reece came up to help his mom out.  The class let out a few "friendly" chuckles.  I mean, it was cute afterall  :-)  Dana did a great job explaining briefly (and down to their level) what Down Syndrome was all about and how it affected Evan, etc.  (how he has 46 instead of the typical 47) Then several kids raised their hands and asked some very, what I thought to be, great questions. The class did a good job focusing on what Dana was saying, even as Evan was rough housing with Reece in the corner.  One little girl asked "does he always do that?"  His mom answered very appropriately, that he does need a little extra help/attention sometimes, and did explain that he does not go to this school yet, and has not yet been told the "RULES".  :-)  good one!

Next we watched the video.  ALL of the kids were engaged and captivated.  They laughed and giggled right along with all the funny parts.  I was in the back of the room and enjoyed watching the kids WATCH the video.  I thought it was neat that they were paying very close attention, listening intently and would frequently turn around and look over towards Evan and Macy.  I could tell they were, in a sense, "comparing" the young boy in the video to these two little ones in their classroom.  Nothing wrong with that.  They made comments about how Jonathon (the boy in the video) looked just like Evan looked.

I can't recall all the questions they had, but here are a few (paraphrased):
*  "do you know before a baby is born that he will have Down Syndrome, like did they have tests or scans of some kind?"
* "does he have, and I'm not talking about mentally, but does he have any physical disabilities?"
*  One boy asked Dana "are you worried about kids bullying him?"
*  "Will he always look like this?"
*  She also explained how at his pre-school he uses an iPad to help him learn.  All the kids were envious and thought that was pretty cool (and not fair  :-) hehe)

I am SOO glad that Dana extended this opportunity to me.  It was very enlightening and encouraging to be in the presence of these kids.  It seems as though kids these days are exposed to so much more than we were growing up (and I mean that in a good way).   They are so impressionable and it makes me all warm inside to know that they are willing and comfortable to accept kids from all walks of life and abilities into their classrooms.  It's really no big deal to them, and that's how it SHOULD be!  It is important that they are made aware of why some kids are unique, so that they truly understand and can appreciate the differences and may perhaps even be helpful.  That is why Dana wanted to have this discussion with them.  All children are curious & inquisitive beings, they are going to wonder and have questions.  So why not just "get it out" and explain it to them.  Let them know that if they ever have any questions or concerns, it's okay.  Just ask  :-)  It's no big deal.
They are all excited to see Evan walk the halls there daily as a kindergartner next year.  They said they will all be sure to "be nice" and say "hi" to him often  :-)

Macy LOVED being there.  She giggled and laughed the entire time.  I think she was a tad bit over-stimulated with all the sights, sounds and bright colors.  What a fun 2nd grade classroom that was.  It felt good to be there!  While it seems like a LONG ways away, I do feel a whole lot better and can envision Macy getting along JUST FINE in this type of inclusive school setting.

I did not take any pics, as I was not sure it would be appropriate...but here are a couple photos of Evan and Reece so that you can "put a face to the name"  :-)
 are they cute or what?
Their whole family  :-)

Okay, so I can't make a post and not have any pics of Macy or I took a few snapshots at the neighborhood park this afternoon - for your (or at least my) viewing pleasure!  :-)
 Macy digging in the sand for the first time this year (Big sis keeping a watchful eye making sure she does not put any sand in her mouth)
 busy bees!
 I'd like to say she she did not ingest any sand, but no guarantees unfortunately, as due to this little stinker's lightning fast sand-swiping speed, I had to do the FINGER SWEEP 5+ times.
 "high five!"
 McKenzie helping Macy stand all by herself...tada!!
 okay, so maybe not ALL by herself...she's got the help of a wooden pole.
 "look ma, no hands!"
 "ooooh, impressive"  I say.
 "I so biig"

I love their expressions in these shots
 McKenzie thinks she's pretty funny because her feet DISAPPEARED!  "uh oooh, where did they go"?
 Me and my girls!
 What a good day it was!  We played at the park for almost 3 hours  :-)  Had to leave only because we had to eat and get changed for gymnastics.

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