What Inclusion Is to Me as the Mother of a Child With Down Syndrome

Something beautiful happened this year: my daughter started kindergarten. My 5-year-old with Down syndrome walked into a general education kindergarten classroom.

Our journey began two years ago at her preschool. They set her up for success. The elementary school followed suit and fully included her in the classroom. Not only did they include her, they met with me several times. They set up her schedule and went to great extents to make sure it was appropriate and would work for her.

The IEP meetings were not scary. The people I worked with weren’t hateful or negative. They were supportive. They were positive. It was everything I dreamed it could be. It was a blessing.

Sending a child to kindergarten is scary. Sending a child with a disability is terrifying.

Perhaps the fear comes from how our society views people with disabilities. Maybe I was more scared because the fear of rejection has always been there. Fear that my child might be turned away because she’s not easy to deal with.

Many parents don’t have the kind of experience I had. For that, I am so sorry.

But, I’d like to share with you what inclusion is to me.

Since the beginning of last year, Lila has affectionately named her class, “my kids.” She thrives on social interaction. She loves her kids. Inclusion, for her, is everything.

Inclusion is excitement and joy. It is, “Momma, I go to the cafeteria with my kids.”

Inclusion is a learning experience for everyone, “Mom, that is my new friend, Lila.”

Inclusion brings laughter and sometimes a bit of chaos, “I sorry Mrs. Roberts. I won’t do that again.”

Inclusion fosters acceptance and independence, “She sat with the kids at circle time the full 30 minutes, I was so proud.”

Inclusion is beautiful.

Every morning Lila wakes up with: “I go to kindergarten, I see my kids!”

Walking away that first day (as she sat at her desk coloring), I couldn’t help but get emotional. This is every parent’s dream…that their child will be right there with everyone else experiencing life. 


I’m forever changed by the experiences I’ve had as her mother.

I believe that she’s changing perceptions and people every day.

A child with a disability being included with everyone else may not be a big deal to you. However, for me, it exemplifies what I wish I could see everywhere.

It shows how far we’ve come from where we were. From institutions at birth, to living, working and thriving among everyone else.

What an awesome step in the right direction.

I’m thankful for the way inclusion is changing our lives and the lives of people in our community.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by monkeybusinessimages

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Down Syndrome

The Quiet Before the Storm as My Son With Down Syndrome Grows Up

A typical week for me may seem like a hurricane to others. It includes 24-hour care of my three kids under 5-years-old, at least three private therapy sessions for my son with Down syndrome, typically one medical appointment, swim lessons, preparing three square meals a day, and keeping house –whatever that entails in 2017! I [...]

The Laugh-Out-Loud Joy My Daughter With Down Syndrome Brings to Our Lives

What makes you laugh, I wonder? I mean really laugh. Out loud. Guffaw. Slapstick humor? A pie to the face? Or a slip-up on a banana skin? The sort that only happens in cartoons….except when it happened to my husband a few years ago, and I’m still laughing. Or perhaps it’s wit. Great British sarcasm [...]

We Need Allies to Stand by Our Side for Our Kids With Disabilities

I’ve watched and read a lot of news lately that has covered colorful, positive events like the Pride parades as well as not so positive events like Charlottesville. I’ve witnessed the straight community walking alongside LGBTQ at the Pride parades, including our very own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to celebrate love, diversity, acceptance and peace. [...]

Life With My 1-Year-Old With Down Syndrome

My baby is 1-year-old! Do I laugh? Do I cry? A combination of the two? Life has truly fast forwarded since this little girl came into existence. Baby Girl is 17.6 pounds, 27.5 inches and has two teeth. This birthday is a big deal for my mama heart. I can confidently say I wouldn’t trade a [...]