Adelle Purdham

@adellepurdham | contributor
Mom to three, writer, teacher, enthusiastic speaker and advocate for those with differing abilities. I believe in the importance of sharing our stories, and I write to inspire stronger communities and more inclusive societies. I blog regularly about my experiences as a parent to a child with Down syndrome, please visit www.adellepurdham.ca
Adelle Purdham

How We Frame the Message of a Prenatal Down Syndrome Diagnosis Matters

In the beginning, there were only pieces of understanding, we had yet to put together the puzzle to see the bigger picture. It began with an unexpected call from our midwife. An affront. A soft marker announcing the possibility of Down syndrome — Down syndrome? Uncertainty, shock, doubt, fleeting moments of glee, because what a caring and compassionate big sister our first-born would become. Sadness and fear — fear? Of what? Or of whom? I later ask myself. Of the unknown. Fragments of worry stab at my chest every day we do not know. Waiting. Until we know for sure we don’t know. A blood test, a repeat ultrasound. We still don’t know. More waiting. A scheduled appointment at the Genetics Clinic in the hospital to discuss the results. In person. This is a life we are talking about. The baby’s and ours. A genetic counsellor leads us into a sterile room. It’s been two weeks, and we still don’t know. She fumbles, “the ultrasound images look good to me, from what I can see,” she leans in conspiratorially, “nothing here suggests Down syndrome.” She doesn’t know. Anything. The doctor, a high risk obstetrician, blows in like the wind, calm and composed, sharp. Her words will cut into me. She introduces herself and tells us about how her children are a similar spread in age to ours. She congratulates us on the pregnancy. She’s personable and I like her right away. She doesn’t keep us waiting, gets to the point. “Your blood test results indicated a one in 40 chance that your baby will be born with Down syndrome,” she pauses, “The findings from your ultrasound increased that number by 50-fold.” I thought, 50 seems high… but it was my husband who did the math correctly, dropping his face into his hands. “There’s an over 90 percent chance that your baby will be born with Down syndrome.” “But, what does that mean?” I cut in. She can’t really tell us conclusively, she says, without an amniocentesis (all that has changed now). I’m staring into her eyes, pleading. “Please,” mother-to-mother, “tell me.” I want to know the truth. She registers my pain, vulnerability — helplessness. Her face softens. “I see over 200 ultrasounds a week and I know Down syndrome when I see it. If I could say 100 percent certain I would, but they won’t let me.” The truth, finally. She gave it to me. “Now, I have to bring this up.” She seems apologetic and at first it doesn’t register why — then it does. “You only have a few weeks left if you wanted to terminate…” She looks to me, and I look to my husband. I know how we both feel, but a small kernel of doubt lodges itself in my heart. What if he changes his mind? My husband knocks it free, sends it flying. “No,” he says firmly, resolute, “we wouldn’t consider that.” This was our baby we were talking about. “OK,” says our doctor — ever kind, empathetic, perhaps relieved? — without a hint of judgement in her voice. The decision was ours and ours alone to make. A decision that should never have to be made because it shouldn’t be offered. “Would you like to speak to a social worker? Someone who specializes in grief counseling and helping families in your situation?” “Yes,” my voice returns, “please have her come.” The two women leave the room. We are alone together. Soft tears. A strong embrace. “Now we know,” I say. “Now we know,” he echoes back. The social worker, Valerie, who we met that day saves my life. She sets us on a path to healing. She also plants the seed for advocacy that blooms into the brightest flower, and will produce the most beautiful garden. My husband and I are hurting. There is no doubt we were hurting. Valerie’s words are the balm to my open wounds. Words I can hang on to over time, and use to sow seeds of my own. Words I can smooth over in my pocket like a polished lucky stone; words to mend my heart. She gives us permission to grieve the loss of the typical baby we were expecting. That was how I felt, like Down syndrome meant the loss of our baby’s life I had imagined in my head. Valerie also silently advocates for the value of our daughter’s life. “You don’t need to do anything differently,” she says when I ask her, “you will love her the same as you would any child.” “How do we tell people?” I am reeling, mortified, even feeling somewhat ashamed. I take it back, I don’t want to know. But, I do. “How you choose to frame the message that your baby will be born with Down syndrome will help shape how those around you will react,” she answers. Let us start there, with framing the right message. This I could control. “She has Down syndrome and she’s healthy. That’s all you have to tell them.” “She’s healthy,” I repeat the words, “and she has Down syndrome.” Valerie beams down at me, happy to see I understand. This was our baby we were talking about, of course I was going to be positive, even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Six and a half years later, while I have much to learn, what I do know is this: how we choose to frame the message of a prenatal diagnosis matters. That we were given accurate and timely information from our doctor; that we were offered support and counseling; that we weren’t judged or guided to make decisions; that the health care team by and large valued every human life equally — these things matter, they matter a lot. The words and the intentions behind the words matter immensely. She has Down syndrome; she’s healthy. And, the words never spoken aloud but left hanging in the air that matter the most: she deserves to live.

Community Voices

Behind the glass

I wrote this piece for anyone who’s ever been on the other side of the glass. Please visit the link for full piece and share if you can - thank you!
"I sit in that waiting room at the midwife clinic, boiling, waiting to give blood, when I see another version of myself standing outside, on the other side of the glass. She is looking in at me. Is that pity on her face? She is the woman I was before the call, before the possibility of Down syndrome came into our lives. I long to be her. She is free, unencumbered from the weight and the burden of any pending unwanted diagnosis. She looks like me, but she could have been any woman whose pregnancy is considered normal. What would she think, I wonder, if she knew the baby I am carrying has Down syndrome? I am ashamed then, feel the heat and redness of Down syndrome written all over my face, so I keep my chin low as a lone tear trails down my cheek. I think, you never know what someone else might be going through behind the mask mothers–women–put up."
herviewfromhome.com/motherhood-down-syndrome
#DownSyndrome #Motherhood #Disability #Love

Adelle Purdham

When Educators Underestimate My Child With Down Syndrome

Discrimination is shocking. Like a slap to the face — and I’ve only experienced it secondhand. Or maybe discrimination is too harsh a word.  Maybe “misunderstanding” is the label I’m searching for in this context, but I don’t think so. When it comes to my daughter Elyse, I have an overflowing jar of “meaning-wells” on my shelf, but somehow the more I receive, the less “well-meanings” I seem to have. With the sheer volume of superfluous good intentions, the point is lost, because good intentions and “meaning-wells” mean nothing when you’re drowning in them and when what you actually need is someone to listen and take you seriously. We are at risk of drowning in the well-meanings of others and losing Elyse at sea without careful vigilance. It is often hard for parents who don’t have a child with Down syndrome to see, for anyone outside of individuals with Down syndrome and their family members to understand how people with Down syndrome are discriminated against on the basis of their diagnosis.  Let me share a story to illustrate what I mean. Around the time Elyse turned 3, was learning to walk, and we took the girls to Disneyland, Elyse learned the letters of the alphabet. Her speech was delayed, but she made sounds and enthusiastically yammered on, mostly nonsensically. Yet, she could say her letters. The year she turned 3, she attended an exceptional Montessori preschool that fostered life skills as well as academic pursuits.  The school focused specifically on letters and letter sounds. From the time Elyse was in the womb, we have read to her.  In the NICU at the hospital, recovering from surgery as a newborn, we read to her.  The nurses, too, would lean in for storytime. Sound has a way of curling around our insides like touch, and we aimed to heal our daughter’s wounds with our words. Books, comprised of letters and their sounds, were Elyse’s salve. At 3, we allowed Elyse to use the Sesame Street app that teaches letters on an iPad, which she was intensely interested in doing. One day, when her grandma and grandad were over, Grandma pointed out that she thought Elyse was labeling her letters.  I had an art easel out with letters printed on it, probably something I was doing to help Ariel, our eldest, who had yet to master the alphabet for lack of interest. “B, D, T,” Elyse said clearly, pointing to each letter correctly, one at a time, though she could barely speak. I was in shock! Elyse, 18 months younger, learned to label the letters of the alphabet before Ariel did. Keep in mind, Ariel, her older sister, is bright and inquisitive and receives excellent grades in school. Fast forward now to junior kindergarten. Elyse is still 3 years old because her birthday is later in the year. I know how she looks to the outside observer with her pull-ups and small stature, but there is so much going on, so much that is not readily apparent because of her language delays.  Then add in the fact that we send her to French school.  Now she has to learn all of the letters again, in French. Admittedly, this takes her a while, but by the end of JK, she’s mostly there and into SK, surely she has solidified this knowledge she first latched onto so young. Roll into grade one. Learning her letters shows up on her Individual Education Plan (IEP) as an expectation. I am adamant this be removed.  Should Elyse choose not to demonstrate this knowledge, it’s because she is bored of it, not because she doesn’t know it.  Her school is phenomenal.  They listen to my concerns and we work together to get the expectations for Elyse’s learning where they need to be.  Expectations are raised higher up, where they need to go.  Once changed, the expectations remain realistic. Enter grade two, the grade she is currently in. Letters are no longer on the school agenda, thankfully, but sounds are up there, as they should be. As you might have predicted (or maybe not?), Elyse is obsessed with books.  She looks at books all day long in her spare time and we offer her an abundance in French and English.  She has an intense interest in examining each page, but she isn’t quite able to decipher those words yet. She will likely learn to read holistically by decoding whole words by their shape, rather than how most kids are taught, which is using a phonetic approach, i.e. by sounding words out.  Of course, there is great value in Elyse learning her sounds and the plan is that she will come to reading by blending the two strategies (holistic and phonetic).  She can read certain repetitive short texts already, small sight words, it’s a matter of building on what she knows and where she is at.  The same as for any child. If we were really to take genetics into account when it comes to Elyse learning her letters, then we should probably look to her parents. I am a writer and a teacher who taught grade one students a second language and then taught those same students to read in that language. Now I help adult writers with their words.  I read no less than 100 books a year, and you can damn well bet my kids are going to experience literacy to the fullest. In addition to a litany of scientific papers, my husband has one book to his name, in the form of a Ph.D. thesis. Our kids have two devoted parents, actively involved in their children’s lives. And don’t get me started on their incredible grandparents. Would you doubt our children would learn their letters? But there are unfair barriers to Elyse’s success.  Every new year is like a new beginning of convincing others what Elyse can do. We recently started a special reading program and the therapist outlined goals. On the third week of Elyse’s sessions, I arrived to find an alphabet chart out. “What are you doing with that?” I asked cautiously. “We’re working on her letters!” Oh no, you’re not. I quickly, calmly, explain Elyse is way past that. The therapist then hands me a paper with four attainable learning goals for Elyse laid out. These are the goals Elyse will be working on for the duration of the program. The second goal reads, “To recognize 10 letters.” “No, absolutely not, not this one,” I pointed out immediately. “You’re a woman who knows what she wants!” the therapist replied. No, I’m a woman who knows what her daughter needs. This therapist means well, I know they do, and Elyse loves them. I believe that they care and that they are good at their job. I am so grateful for the work they do because our family benefits from the support. But thank goodness they were consulting me and open to my suggestions/demands. Elyse will not be subjected to “learning” her letters again. The feeling I’m left with from the experience (and this is not the first nor will it be the last time) is that learning outcomes are too often being made based on assumptions, prejudices and discrimination — misunderstandings if you will.  She has Down syndrome; she is Down syndrome, therefore she will only be able to do X, Y, and Z.  No, no, no!  These folks mean well, but no!  I share this story not to shame; the problem is a societal issue. It’s time to raise the bar. To presume competence, capability and intelligence.  Elyse’s preschool teacher, a woman I know who really saw her, used to say to me all the time, “She’s a smart cookie!” And you know, she’s my kid, but I don’t care, I’ll say it anyway — she is a smart cookie and she deserves to be treated as such. She deserves the same respect other students do, the same chances at inquiry, the same push to succeed and grow, all of the best efforts to get her to learn. She does not deserve to relearn the alphabet. Every. Single. Year. In Elyse’s place, wouldn’t you be bored?  And how forgiving of misunderstandings would you be if it was your child?

Adelle Purdham

How We Frame the Message of a Prenatal Down Syndrome Diagnosis Matters

In the beginning, there were only pieces of understanding, we had yet to put together the puzzle to see the bigger picture. It began with an unexpected call from our midwife. An affront. A soft marker announcing the possibility of Down syndrome — Down syndrome? Uncertainty, shock, doubt, fleeting moments of glee, because what a caring and compassionate big sister our first-born would become. Sadness and fear — fear? Of what? Or of whom? I later ask myself. Of the unknown. Fragments of worry stab at my chest every day we do not know. Waiting. Until we know for sure we don’t know. A blood test, a repeat ultrasound. We still don’t know. More waiting. A scheduled appointment at the Genetics Clinic in the hospital to discuss the results. In person. This is a life we are talking about. The baby’s and ours. A genetic counsellor leads us into a sterile room. It’s been two weeks, and we still don’t know. She fumbles, “the ultrasound images look good to me, from what I can see,” she leans in conspiratorially, “nothing here suggests Down syndrome.” She doesn’t know. Anything. The doctor, a high risk obstetrician, blows in like the wind, calm and composed, sharp. Her words will cut into me. She introduces herself and tells us about how her children are a similar spread in age to ours. She congratulates us on the pregnancy. She’s personable and I like her right away. She doesn’t keep us waiting, gets to the point. “Your blood test results indicated a one in 40 chance that your baby will be born with Down syndrome,” she pauses, “The findings from your ultrasound increased that number by 50-fold.” I thought, 50 seems high… but it was my husband who did the math correctly, dropping his face into his hands. “There’s an over 90 percent chance that your baby will be born with Down syndrome.” “But, what does that mean?” I cut in. She can’t really tell us conclusively, she says, without an amniocentesis (all that has changed now). I’m staring into her eyes, pleading. “Please,” mother-to-mother, “tell me.” I want to know the truth. She registers my pain, vulnerability — helplessness. Her face softens. “I see over 200 ultrasounds a week and I know Down syndrome when I see it. If I could say 100 percent certain I would, but they won’t let me.” The truth, finally. She gave it to me. “Now, I have to bring this up.” She seems apologetic and at first it doesn’t register why — then it does. “You only have a few weeks left if you wanted to terminate…” She looks to me, and I look to my husband. I know how we both feel, but a small kernel of doubt lodges itself in my heart. What if he changes his mind? My husband knocks it free, sends it flying. “No,” he says firmly, resolute, “we wouldn’t consider that.” This was our baby we were talking about. “OK,” says our doctor — ever kind, empathetic, perhaps relieved? — without a hint of judgement in her voice. The decision was ours and ours alone to make. A decision that should never have to be made because it shouldn’t be offered. “Would you like to speak to a social worker? Someone who specializes in grief counseling and helping families in your situation?” “Yes,” my voice returns, “please have her come.” The two women leave the room. We are alone together. Soft tears. A strong embrace. “Now we know,” I say. “Now we know,” he echoes back. The social worker, Valerie, who we met that day saves my life. She sets us on a path to healing. She also plants the seed for advocacy that blooms into the brightest flower, and will produce the most beautiful garden. My husband and I are hurting. There is no doubt we were hurting. Valerie’s words are the balm to my open wounds. Words I can hang on to over time, and use to sow seeds of my own. Words I can smooth over in my pocket like a polished lucky stone; words to mend my heart. She gives us permission to grieve the loss of the typical baby we were expecting. That was how I felt, like Down syndrome meant the loss of our baby’s life I had imagined in my head. Valerie also silently advocates for the value of our daughter’s life. “You don’t need to do anything differently,” she says when I ask her, “you will love her the same as you would any child.” “How do we tell people?” I am reeling, mortified, even feeling somewhat ashamed. I take it back, I don’t want to know. But, I do. “How you choose to frame the message that your baby will be born with Down syndrome will help shape how those around you will react,” she answers. Let us start there, with framing the right message. This I could control. “She has Down syndrome and she’s healthy. That’s all you have to tell them.” “She’s healthy,” I repeat the words, “and she has Down syndrome.” Valerie beams down at me, happy to see I understand. This was our baby we were talking about, of course I was going to be positive, even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Six and a half years later, while I have much to learn, what I do know is this: how we choose to frame the message of a prenatal diagnosis matters. That we were given accurate and timely information from our doctor; that we were offered support and counseling; that we weren’t judged or guided to make decisions; that the health care team by and large valued every human life equally — these things matter, they matter a lot. The words and the intentions behind the words matter immensely. She has Down syndrome; she’s healthy. And, the words never spoken aloud but left hanging in the air that matter the most: she deserves to live.

Adelle Purdham

My Daughter With Down Syndrome Can Learn a Second Language

As a former grade one French immersion teacher, I comforted anxious parents signing their children up for the program by telling them not to worry, “Second language learning is for everyone! Except for, maybe, if a child has some sort of language delay.” I considered myself to be forward thinking, after all, many teachers were actively discouraging the families of students with any sort of learning difficulty to pursue the French immersion program, effectively weeding many students out, and creating a scenario where French immersion became the symbol of the elite few who could “handle it.” I was a French immersion student once myself. I studied French in university and lived and worked in a French town to fully immerse myself in the language — then I became a French teacher. When traveling, I’ve been fortunate to be able to navigate in French speaking countries and make connections with French speakers around the world. Speaking French also got me a teaching job in a competitive market. As neither of my parents spoke any French, it was a love and appreciation for languages that was fostered early on through my schooling that steered me toward bilingualism. I wanted to share the opportunities that open up and my affinity for the French language with my own children when they arrived one day. I pictured signing them up for the French immersion program, just like their mom and dad, and they too would become bilingual. Fast forward a few years into my teaching career, I’m 27 years old and my first-born arrives. A beautiful baby girl, born 6-pounds, 4-ounces. She fits right in with my perfect plans for her. A year after that, I’m pregnant again, but this time we find out I’m carrying a child with Down syndrome. This wasn’t part of the plan. Remember my words of wisdom? “Second language learning is for everyone, except maybe if the child has some sort of language delay.” Then I have a child born who has a language delay, and boy, did that change things for me. While still pregnant, my initial thought, which seems so primitive and uninformed when I read back on it now, was that my daughter, Elyse, would go to some separate school where only kids with Down syndrome went. Maybe I’ll even teach children with Down syndrome, I thought. Even as a teacher, I didn’t realize full inclusion was not only an option, but the best option for any child when fully realized with the necessary supports of school boards, classroom teachers, support workers and the like. I could only see that different would mean, well, different schools, different ways of doing things. But adopting this narrow viewpoint doesn’t take into account what is in the best interest of the child and the community. As Elyse grew older, we signed her up for a local preschool program, and then another until we found the right fit. I sought out certain qualities in the schools I approached, namely, an inclusive, welcoming and loving environment. I knew we found a second home when at an initial meeting the director said to me, “we have smaller chairs we will bring up to accommodate her,” before I even had to ask, after first mentioning they would keep all aisles clear because our feisty 2-year-old wasn’t walking yet, and used crawling to get around. These people understood my daughter and saw her as a whole person; they got my need for her to get an education. By the end of that year, at age 3, Elyse knew all of her alphabet letters, and I had to learn to adjust my expectations, holding them higher still. By the time kindergarten sign-up arrived, I did my homework. In our community, there were two options for French schooling — yes, she would be going to a school where she could learn French as a second language. How could I take that option away from her? Did she not deserve the same opportunities as her big sister? In the end, the decision was simple. Choosing the right school — when you have a choice — comes down to the people and the community. I walked into public school A, and asked what supports would be available for our daughter who has Down syndrome in the French program. “That’s a really good question!” was the perplexed answer I received in return. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I walked out knowing I would not be back. When I visited public school B, I was told our daughter would get 100 percent support. They were prepared to meet her needs. As toileting and safety needs were paramount, I knew our daughter needed the extra support, but especially because her education and academic needs mattered too, and she requires additional help to manage and learn these skills as well. School B ended up being a French-first language school, primarily for native speakers, meaning, my English-speaking daughter is learning and spending the entirety of her school day in French. My rationale in choosing French-first language school was that Elyse would have to learn the language — there would be no easy way out on her part and her teachers would have to get her there,  and if it didn’t work out, we would reassess then and we could always move her to a different school. I wish I could take back what I said to those few anxious parents when they asked me if second language learning was right for their child. Now I can speak from experience. Whether my daughter has language delays in English or French does not change the obvious: she is capable, extremely capable of learning a second language. She may need more time. She needs support. But that does not mean, and it should never mean, that we exclude a child from an opportunity, from broadening their scope of the world and their ability to connect with the people in it. Creating elite programs where we exclude students is a misguided approach. What we should be doing is finding more ways to bring students with diverse needs in. Our family has big travel plans in the fall and I cannot wait to listen to both of my eldest daughters chit-chat with fellow travelers in French. Elyse’s vocabulary may be somewhat limited, and her language skills continue to be delayed, but she is learning in a second language every day, she understands so much, and I’m proud to be her mom.

Adelle Purdham

My Daughter With Down Syndrome Can Learn a Second Language

As a former grade one French immersion teacher, I comforted anxious parents signing their children up for the program by telling them not to worry, “Second language learning is for everyone! Except for, maybe, if a child has some sort of language delay.” I considered myself to be forward thinking, after all, many teachers were actively discouraging the families of students with any sort of learning difficulty to pursue the French immersion program, effectively weeding many students out, and creating a scenario where French immersion became the symbol of the elite few who could “handle it.” I was a French immersion student once myself. I studied French in university and lived and worked in a French town to fully immerse myself in the language — then I became a French teacher. When traveling, I’ve been fortunate to be able to navigate in French speaking countries and make connections with French speakers around the world. Speaking French also got me a teaching job in a competitive market. As neither of my parents spoke any French, it was a love and appreciation for languages that was fostered early on through my schooling that steered me toward bilingualism. I wanted to share the opportunities that open up and my affinity for the French language with my own children when they arrived one day. I pictured signing them up for the French immersion program, just like their mom and dad, and they too would become bilingual. Fast forward a few years into my teaching career, I’m 27 years old and my first-born arrives. A beautiful baby girl, born 6-pounds, 4-ounces. She fits right in with my perfect plans for her. A year after that, I’m pregnant again, but this time we find out I’m carrying a child with Down syndrome. This wasn’t part of the plan. Remember my words of wisdom? “Second language learning is for everyone, except maybe if the child has some sort of language delay.” Then I have a child born who has a language delay, and boy, did that change things for me. While still pregnant, my initial thought, which seems so primitive and uninformed when I read back on it now, was that my daughter, Elyse, would go to some separate school where only kids with Down syndrome went. Maybe I’ll even teach children with Down syndrome, I thought. Even as a teacher, I didn’t realize full inclusion was not only an option, but the best option for any child when fully realized with the necessary supports of school boards, classroom teachers, support workers and the like. I could only see that different would mean, well, different schools, different ways of doing things. But adopting this narrow viewpoint doesn’t take into account what is in the best interest of the child and the community. As Elyse grew older, we signed her up for a local preschool program, and then another until we found the right fit. I sought out certain qualities in the schools I approached, namely, an inclusive, welcoming and loving environment. I knew we found a second home when at an initial meeting the director said to me, “we have smaller chairs we will bring up to accommodate her,” before I even had to ask, after first mentioning they would keep all aisles clear because our feisty 2-year-old wasn’t walking yet, and used crawling to get around. These people understood my daughter and saw her as a whole person; they got my need for her to get an education. By the end of that year, at age 3, Elyse knew all of her alphabet letters, and I had to learn to adjust my expectations, holding them higher still. By the time kindergarten sign-up arrived, I did my homework. In our community, there were two options for French schooling — yes, she would be going to a school where she could learn French as a second language. How could I take that option away from her? Did she not deserve the same opportunities as her big sister? In the end, the decision was simple. Choosing the right school — when you have a choice — comes down to the people and the community. I walked into public school A, and asked what supports would be available for our daughter who has Down syndrome in the French program. “That’s a really good question!” was the perplexed answer I received in return. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I walked out knowing I would not be back. When I visited public school B, I was told our daughter would get 100 percent support. They were prepared to meet her needs. As toileting and safety needs were paramount, I knew our daughter needed the extra support, but especially because her education and academic needs mattered too, and she requires additional help to manage and learn these skills as well. School B ended up being a French-first language school, primarily for native speakers, meaning, my English-speaking daughter is learning and spending the entirety of her school day in French. My rationale in choosing French-first language school was that Elyse would have to learn the language — there would be no easy way out on her part and her teachers would have to get her there,  and if it didn’t work out, we would reassess then and we could always move her to a different school. I wish I could take back what I said to those few anxious parents when they asked me if second language learning was right for their child. Now I can speak from experience. Whether my daughter has language delays in English or French does not change the obvious: she is capable, extremely capable of learning a second language. She may need more time. She needs support. But that does not mean, and it should never mean, that we exclude a child from an opportunity, from broadening their scope of the world and their ability to connect with the people in it. Creating elite programs where we exclude students is a misguided approach. What we should be doing is finding more ways to bring students with diverse needs in. Our family has big travel plans in the fall and I cannot wait to listen to both of my eldest daughters chit-chat with fellow travelers in French. Elyse’s vocabulary may be somewhat limited, and her language skills continue to be delayed, but she is learning in a second language every day, she understands so much, and I’m proud to be her mom.