To the Parents of My Son’s Classmates, From the Mom of a Boy With Down Syndrome

Dear Parents:

We’re so excited to be on this kindergarten journey with all of you!

We want to take a moment to introduce you to our son, Evan Rothholz. Evan is a curious boy who learns with enthusiasm. Just like your children, some things come naturally, and some things are more difficult to learn.

Evan is already learning to read many words and he can spell words like “fox,” “stop,” and “go.” He loves to count. He loves to sing and dance. He’s persistent when he’s trying to learn, and he’s quick to comfort people when they’re sad. This probably sounds a lot like your children. Evan is more like all your children than different.

Evan also happens to have Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition where individuals have three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. According to the National Down Syndrome Congress, the incidence of “Down syndrome in the United States is estimated to be 1 in every 700 live births.”

People with Down syndrome may have some challenges, but they also have some great abilities. Evan needs help with strength and balance and with things like writing and cutting. He also needs a little help with his speech, though he can ask for things he wants (like his iPad or some cake) perfectly.

Evan has grown up fully included in classroom with friends who do not have disabilities, which is really important. There are many studies that show that inclusive classrooms provide academic advantages for kids with and without disabilities. It’s so important for Evan to learn in the classroom with your children, because like your children, he may grow up to do things like drive a car, go to college and have a job as many people with Down syndrome now do.

Evan enjoys doing things that all the other children in his class do. He may do them a little differently or more slowly, or he may do them just the same as the other children. He is more like his friends that do not have Down syndrome than different.

We encourage everyone to use people-first language. Evan is a boy with Down syndrome, not a Down syndrome boy. We hope Evan will be recognized for his smart, playful self, not for his condition.

Finally, we understand that you and your children may have questions about Down syndrome. We welcome them, and we’re not embarrassed if your children stare or ask questions. It means they’re interested.

Your children may notice some differences between Evan and themselves, and that’s OK. We’re thrilled to tell them that though Evan may look and talk a little differently, there are many things about him that are the same as everyone else. If you or your children have questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

We look forward to this wonderful year!


Julie Gerhart-Rothholz

Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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