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When a Learning Center Said They Weren't ‘Equipped for Down Syndrome’

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I’m currently educating my daughter Zoey at home, and recently I called a learning center that offers enrichment classes for homeschoolers. I was told there were spaces available. I was so excited, as this place is usually full. I decided to ask if they accept children with special needs, and it all went downhill from there.

You see, my daughter has Down syndrome. Two words, a diagnosis, that means she has an extra copy of chromosome 21. Along with that extra chromosome comes some challenges that the rest of us may not experience. Each person with Down syndrome is unique, just like the rest of us. It’s not possible to know how a child behaves or what challenges they face strictly by the fact that they have Down syndrome. So you can imagine how I felt when this establishment said, “We aren’t equipped for Down syndrome.”

little girl wearing glasses

“We aren’t equipped.” The words continue to replay in my mind, and now I have questions I was too shocked to think of in that moment. But at this point, the questions don’t matter. What matters is that we live in a world where people still hear a diagnosis and stop. That’s the end. They have a picture in their mind and are unable, or unwilling, to take a moment to learn. How can anyone know they aren’t equipped without knowing what is needed? I believe every child should be given a chance.

girl holding blue umbrella

My daughter is amazing! Of course, I’m her mom and may be biased just a bit, but anyone who has taken the time to know her says the same. She loves “Frozen,” she loves to dance and sing and she spends tons of time coloring and playing with her dolls. She adores her siblings, loves us (her parents) and is constantly talking about her friends. She has the power to light up a room and a smile that beams, accentuating her hazel eyes and sweet little face.

Yes, Zoey has Down syndrome and she does face some challenges, but should that mean she has to miss out? I don’t think so. I believe she, and all children, deserve a chance. A chance to learn and have fun, a chance to meet new friends and teachers, and especially a chance to be known and seen for who they are.

young girl raising her arms

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected moment with a teacher, parent or student during your (or your loved one’s) school year. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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.

Originally published: January 29, 2016
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