The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Please Talk to Your Children (31 for 21)

About Hailey and all people with Down syndrome....

I wrote this last year, but it so important, I need to repeat myself.  It is imperative that parents educate your children.  Teach them compassion, teach them empathy, teach them respect, teach them how to be a true friend (regardless if you look different then they do).  

Remember people with Down syndrome, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities are people.  People with emotions.  People with dreams.  People with fears.  People worth getting to know.

Teach your children that individuals with disabilities are people.  I can talk until I am blue in the face about Hailey and others with Down syndrome.  I can try to bust every stereotype, myth and misconception, but if you don't pass this information onto your children, I am wasting my time.  Your sons and daughters are the children my daughter is going to encounter every day.  They are her peers at the playground.  They will be her peers at school.  Then one day, they will be her co-workers.  I need them to accept her, also.

Please show your children that Hailey and others with DS are just like them.  They are little boys and girls that enjoy playing soccer, swimming, playing dolls, playing cars, etc.  Explain to them what sign language is.  Explain that they aren't flapping their arms aimlessly...they are communicating just as your child speaks.  If they have a child with DS in their life that uses sign language, teach your child a few of the signs.  My nieces and nephews love learning sign language and talking to Hailey.  They love knowing what she is signing.  Teach your children that she is not to be feared because she isn't developing at the same rate as your child or because she looks "different".  

Teach them that mocking her or using the r-word is mean and disrespectful.  It is hurtful and hateful.  She will know one day what it means and that people are calling her that.  Would you want that for your daughter, son, sister or brother.  Teach them to respect her as I will teach her to respect people.

A place to start?  Here are a few books that you can read to your child about children with Down syndrome (for younger children).  Choose one!

Let's Paint the Octopus Red  by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson and Bryan Gough

 I Can, Can You? by Marjorie W. Pitzer

Meet Annie by Heather J. Scharlau- Hollis

High Fives and A Big Heart

My Sister, Alicia May by Nancy Tupper Ling and Shennen Bersani

For older children, consider participating in the annual Buddy Walk in your area or call your local Down syndrome association and ask if there are any opportunities to volunteer through them.  Working together, we can all make a difference for the future.

Thank you from Hailey and all the people who love her!!