I have two students in my class that have Down Syndrome. They are with me in the morning, then they attend their Life Skills class for a large part of the day with another teacher. Later in the day, they return, joining the class for science, social studies, art, gym, music, or library.
On more than one occasion I have marveled at the way other students treat my two students with Down Syndrome. They treat them “Just like any other student in the class.” I have not seen any bias or mistreatment, but compassion.
The two students are encouraged by other students to sit with them at lunch. One boy is too shy so he doesn’t, but the other student sits at the table, laughing and joking with the others.
When my students bring in treats for the class, they always include these two students. If they happen to be in their Life Skills class when they are being distributed, they make sure they go to their class and give them their treats.
Yet, one day that bless me was how my class made the students feel wanted when we were going outside for an activity. One of the students with Down Syndrome didn’t want to come, but the other student who was debating to go, was encouraged to come along. I could hear some students tell him “Come on with us.” One student even told him to “Get in line with me,” which made the student feel welcomed and happy.
As we were completing the activity, around the perimeter of the school, something happened with the student’s sneakers. Other kids jumped in to help him, which made my heart smile.
These few incidences and many others, where I have noticed my students showing concern and kindness, has surprised me. I feel blessed knowing that there are children in this world who have compassionate hearts for others with special needs.