Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kliewer--Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Christopher Kliewer penned quite an interesting read this week regarding the concept of the image of down syndrome, and ways we can work to essentially redo the images projected with it.
Down Syndrome, and for that matter any disability, are not viewed as an individual who can achieve full possible potential, and are viewed as an abnormality in society. However, the people judging these individuals with disabilities as abnormal have no basis to pass judgement along, as many of these individuals are not disabled, and know nothing of what it is like to live with any form of a disability. Early on in his book, Kliewer mentions a young girl named Mia Peterson, a young girl who has felt that her disability has segregated her from opportunities her non-disabled peers were able to ascertain. Mia stated: "I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all of my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad. I wanted to cry." (Peterson , 1994 pg 6.) To think that individuals such as Mia were not afforded the same opportunities most people are is sickening. We have no idea the learning potential these children can have. Today, Mia co-leads a study on communication skills and people with down syndrome with Professor Laura Meyers, a member of the faculty at UCLA. Immediately, this makes me think of our SCWAAMP activity, where we identified that survival of the fittest is still looked upon as a prestigious sentiment in the United States. It is shameful, as some of these students could be brighter than some who have no disability whatsoever. Students that take special education courses these days, as far as what I saw in my own high school, are students with severe disabilities, such as to the point where they cannot care for themselves for day-to-day activities. Searching the internet, I found this really interesting chart which shows the percentage of students with a documented special need or disability, and are placed in general classrooms. At the top, one category pushes all disabilities together and says "All students with disabilities". In schools that allow 80% or more of these students into classrooms, 60% of the students with disabilities actually go in, meaning 40% were unable. This is remarkable. How many times when you are in class can you identify another student with a disability? Almost never. That is because a lot of the time, these disabilities are something internal, such as a developmental delay, or behavioral issue, or being deaf. However, if there were to be a student in the room with a disability that was visible, such as down syndrome, then they would immediately be looked upon as different in some way. There is something even today that disallows students with these disabilities to be looked at as any regular in society, and this needs to be reconceptualized. They are among us like any other individual is, and should be treated as any normal member of society. Can you tell which child in the picture below has a disability? I can't either.


  1. Great job with this week's blog. I think you did a good job of picking out the main points in the article!

  2. Like Emily said you did a nice job picking out the main points of the piece. Great post this week!!