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Don't Assume My Son With Down Syndrome 'Can't'

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It’s summer, so as a parent of a child with disabilities, we try to squeeze in all our summer appointments. For us, it begins the agonizing round of teaching. Teaching doctors, teaching dentists, and often teaching teachers.

Teaching the doctor to ask my child directly if they are feeling OK.

Teaching the dentist to ask my child if they have any pain or uncomfortable teeth, directly.

Teaching the interviewer to say, “can you ‘currently’ do X, Y, Z? Or is this a skill you are working on?”

Because for us, it’s not about “can not.” It’s about “can’t yet!”

I find it hard to name things that my son can not do.

He can do almost anything with help. With resources and tools in place, he can!

He may need help with a portion of the reading.

He may need the math problem laid out for him.

The job may need to be broken down into smaller steps.

We may need to use scaffolding to gain some skills.

He may need to practice to get the process correct.

But, with help, he can!

If we could change the mindset to, “Can you do this now, or do you need help?”

It would change everything!

If we could open hearts and minds to seeing potential instead of faults.

If we could look for strengths instead of can nots.

Please think — he can!

And ask, “How can I help?”

Originally published: July 22, 2021
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