Tomorrow your Mom and I will be meeting with Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) to notify them if we intend to enroll you in their pre-kindergarten program or keep you in the County’s Infants and Toddlers program for another year. Initially, I didn’t think this decision was going to be a difficult one. The overwhelming majority of people I talk to, all of whom know you, reassure me sending you to school is the right thing to do. But are you ready?
You have done incredibly well in the Infants and Toddlers program. With the support of your therapists, you have thrived. Why would I want to pull you away from that successful environment? I was afraid you would never walk, but you did. I was afraid you would never feed yourself, but you do. I was afraid you would never start talking, but now you never stop. You are a typical toddler in drastically more ways than you are not. You have worked your little heinie off. Why stop when we have something so good going?
It seems everyone who meets you walks away with a smile on their face. You light up a room, little girl. Interestingly, we have noticed that lately most of your biggest milestone achievements, you accomplished while away from us. For example – In daycare, you are feeding yourself 100% independently. Where the world did that come from? Mom and I basically have to force you to eat at home! Very frustrating. I just don’t know if we are ready to put you on a bus and send you away. Then again, I also feel you have an opportunity to help make our community a more inclusive and understanding environment as you are out there interacting with others. Showing people what you are all about. You help folks understand that Down syndrome doesn’t need to be a scary subject to be avoided. You are a happy, assertive, and opinionated little girl with an infectious smile. Perhaps the world needs to see more of you?
FCPS would be lucky to have you in their program. It’s important for students to experience others who may not look exactly like them, or learn at the same pace, or have the same abilities. It’s also important for you to experience these things. Diversity needs to be celebrated. Inclusion should be automatic. You are already a self-advocate that regularly marches the halls of Congress demanding these basic principles. Maybe it’s time for you to march to school and reinforce them.
I’m proud of you and I’m very proud to be your Dad.